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PokerStars Wins Appeal On $870 Million Kentucky Court Judgment

Case May Be Headed To Kentucky Supreme Court


A court of appeals has thrown out a $870.7 million judgement against The Stars Group, signaling a win for the online poker site in a long-fought battle with the state of Kentucky.

It’s been nearly three years since Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate found PokerStars liable for violating a gambling loss recovery statute by offering online poker in the state prior to Black Friday.

“We are pleased not only with the Court of Appeals vacating the $870 million judgment, but also with the well-reasoned opinion appropriately limiting the scope of the antiquated statute at issue,” said Sheryl Snyder, an attorney for The Stars Group.

Kentucky allows anyone to sue “winners” to recover their lost wagers in games of chance. The distinction made by the most recent appeals court ruling, however, is that the state of Kentucky can’t sue on behalf of any victims.

The suit was originally brought by State Cabinet Secretary John Tilley in 2010, and arrived at the ridiculous $870.7 million figure despite the fact that PokerStars only raked $18 million from Kentucky citizens during the five-year period in question. The first ruling came down in December of 2015 and an appeal was filed just a couple months later.

The state was also seeking 12 percent interest on the judgement until the amount was paid. Incredibly, none of the money would have actually gone to poker players in Kentucky, staying instead within state coffers.

“We are disappointed by today’s Court of Appeals ruling in the PokerStars case, which will take away from the Commonwealth a billion dollar judgment, including interest," said State Cabinet Spokesman Mike Wynn. "The decision doesn’t appear to even address the substantive issues in the case, but rests entirely on procedural questions.”

The state may still decide to re-appeal the case, or even escalate to the Kentucky Supreme Court.