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Kentucky Commonwealth Asks Supreme Court for More Time in the Domain Seizure Appeal


by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
February 10, 2009

           According to iMEGA, the Commonwealth of Kentucky filed a notice to appeal in the domain seizure case, in which the Court of Appeals had issued a 2-1 majority ruling that prohibited the confiscation of 141 internet casino gambling domains. Since the appeal was filed in January, the Commonwealth has asked for more time to prepare its case.

            The Commonwealth has asked the Kentucky State Supreme Court for permission to extend the court hearing date so that it might add an additional 30 pages to its already 50 pages appeal. Kentucky will face-off against advocacy and net neutrality groups like iMEGA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology and the American Civil Liberties Union. It was also requested that if another 30 pages were not permitted, that a 10 day extension be placed on the deadline to file the brief.

            “They’re certainly within their rights to make their request, but they don’t really seem to be bringing anything new to the table,” said Joe Brennan Jr., chairman at iMEGA. “The motion is a repetition of the same arguments that failed in the Court of Appeals – that iMEGA is an ‘illegal gambling association,’ that we have no right to represent our members in court and that domain names are ‘gambling devices’ under Kentucky law. Those arguments didn’t work before, but maybe they feel the added volume of pages will overcome the flaws found by the Court of Appeals in their attack on our members.”

            The online casino industry celebrated an historic victory in January, wherein the Supreme Court ruled that online casino domains were not considered devices. Not only did this ruling prevent the seizure of a large portion of gambling websites, but it gave the internet casino industry political clout against the UIGEA, which has criminalized internet gambling since 2006.

            The chairman at iMEGA did not speak highly of the decision to appeal, and the frustrations of the advocacy group are beginning to be more apparent. “The Commonwealth’s attorneys might save some space if they drop this continued assault on our standing,” said Brennan. “Perhaps they might review Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Commission, where the U.S. Supreme Court established the right of associations to stand in court on behalf of their members. Since that’s been a settled issue since 1977, I think it’s time for the Commonwealth’s attorneys to move on.”

            It has been argued that Kentucky’s attempts to confiscate the internet casinos are nothing more than a display of protectionism against its horse racing industry, which the governor who initially launched the lawsuit has spent a great deal of time lobbying for. The U.S. is in continued negotiations with Antigua and the World Trade Organization for its blatant show of discrimination against offshore gambling facilities. The $21 million settlement agreement has yet to be completed, however, while the U.S. continues its assault on the industry.