by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
A group of organizations in opposition to the Kentucky court proceedings in which 141 online casino gambling websites may be confiscated, participated in a discussion and press conference hosted by the personal freedoms body, the Bluegrass Institute.
A plethora of industry media and legal representatives attended, some of which were the Associated Press, iMEGA, the Poker Players Alliance, Americans for Tax Reform and the Media Freedom Project, Lexington television outs WTVQ and WAVE 3 TV, the Internet Commerce Association and local CBS, NBC and ABC representatives.
Among the arguments against the seizure, legal representatives have added that the US domain registrar GoDaddy had fully complied with an order previously made by the Frankfort Circuit Court to release a handful of domains while the case was pending. It has also been brought to light that the Kentucky Governor Beshear is practicing commercial protectionism in his attempt to hi-jack international internet gambling domains.
Edward James Leyden, an attorney representing iMEGA states, “Nobody has been as reckless as Kentucky has on this. Here’s how I react to it: Governor Beshear needs to read the Constitution.” Leyden noted the Kentucky lottery (sometimes played online) and the Kentucky state Internet-based horse race betting operation,TwinSpires.com.
“I guess the perception is it’s just out of staters and it’s just people who aren’t here in Kentucky, and then it’s a free ride,” added Leyden.
The Poker Players Alliance, one of the strongest and most active pressure groups in the industry, has sent some 1,800 letters from its members. The organization argues that poker should not be considered illegal gambling because it requires more skill than it does chance. The PPA has recommended that its members, when writing to State officials, maintain that “Poker is not gambling, nor is it a crime. Poker is a game of skill that was unfairly and improperly included in this action, and I request the immediate removal of the poker-only sites from your list of domains to seize.”
iMEGA is not satisfied with just the removal of online poker sites, however. Its website has posted a statement that reads, “Should the actions of Kentucky’s chief executive stand, the harm to Internet freedom would be immense. What a powerful weapon would be placed in the hands of government: to arbitrarily seize politically, religiously, or culturally-based Internet domains that may run contrary to the views of those in power.”
Derek Hunter of the Media Freedom Project told WTVQ, “This is a dangerous step in regulating what people can and cannot access on the Internet. Who is to guarantee it will stop here?”
Jim Waters of the Bluegrass Institute added, “What happens is being watched across the world. People in Kentucky haven’t even had the opportunity to express their views to elected officials.”
The proceedings will continue on Tuesday. Should the court rule in favor of the domain seizures, online casinos will sustain a crushing blow; not only in the loss of the US market, and the temporary closure to its overseas users, but also in the outrageous fines that Kentucky is demanding for the websites to begin operating again.