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Poker Players Alliance Joins Legal Battle Between PokerStars And Kentucky

Lobbying Group Calls Suit 'A Big Government Money Grab'


The Poker Players Alliance said Friday that it has filed a motion to join a years-old case that pits the state of Kentucky against PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site.

The state has a pending lawsuit against certain PokerStars entities and former affiliates. The aim is to collect “tens of millions of dollars” in alleged losses of Kentucky poker players while the online poker site operated in the Commonwealth between 2006 and 2011, according to the PPA.

In a statement, the PPA called the lawsuit a "cynical big government money grab of private consumer dollars to pay for political excesses.”

PPA Executive Director John Pappas said in a statement: “This entire lawsuit is based on a long-shunned 19th Century sore loser statute, which is about as applicable today as the anti-dueling laws still on the books. The Commonwealth has spent countless resources and time figuring out how to extort money from online poker companies when they could have spent that time creating a safe and regulated market that would have raised equal or greater amounts of money to benefit the consumers and taxpayers of the Commonwealth both now and in the future. The affected players should be the ones who collect from this suit, not the government and certainly not the attorneys."

PokerStars left the United States in April 2011 after the Black Friday indictments. The company eventually settled with the federal government without admitting to any wrongdoing, and just this fall it was licensed by the state of New Jersey to offer online poker from Atlantic City sometime next year.

The online poker site said in a statement that it “welcome[s] the intervention of the Poker Players Alliance to this suit.”

Eric Hollreiser, Vice President of Corporate Communications, added: “While we do not believe the suit has merit and will continue to pursue the case in the courts, if there is a monetary judgement it should go toward the consumers who played on PokerStars and not to line the pockets of opportunistic plaintiff’s attorneys.”

In 2013, Kentucky was able to get a $15 million settlement with Bwin.Party in a similar suit. Kentucky tried in 2008 to seize 141 domain names associated with Internet betting. Court battles ensued, but the seizures never happened. The state has also looked at banning online gaming.

Tags: Kentucky,   PokerStars