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Judge rules that PokerStars has to pay Kentucky state $100M in bonds

PokerStars lost a $1.3 billion judgement to the state because wagering on online poker is illegal in the state. Even though the litigation has dragged on for a decade, PokerStars has asked U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
United States
Reading time 1:38 min
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled Thursday in favor of the state, where online poker is illegal. The bonds were posted five years ago by PokerStars after it lost a $1.3B judgment over Kentuckians who lost over $290M on its website and began a lengthy appeal. The firm has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

A judge has ruled that the state of Kentucky can collect $100 million in bonds from PokerStars, a company that recently lost a $1.3 billion judgement to the state reports the Lexington Herald Leader.

PokerStars, that from 2006 to 2011 earned more than $290 million from about 34,000 kentuckians, was ruled in December as an “illegal internet gambling criminal syndicate” by the Kentucky Supreme Court. Due to the fact that wagering on online poker is illegal in the state, therefore state law allows lawsuits to recover money lost to such gambling with tripled damages.

The online poker site is required to post the bond money through insurance companies during the lenghty appeals process. Franklin Circuit judge Thomas Wingate ordered that the bonds must be surrendered to Kentucky within 20 days.

Gov. Andy Beshear’s office confirmed Wingate’s order. The judge wrote in his order that an escrow account will be designated by the state’s lawyers.

Collecting the rest of the $1.3 billion judgment might not be as simple for state officials, a sum that according to the state’s lawyers, does not include compounded interest, which is accruing $504,477 per day.

Lawyers for the state have said in court filings that the company is transferring valuable assets, such as trademarks, and making comments that suggest that “neither PokerStars nor its parent company, Flutter Entertainment, have any intention of paying the judgment.”

At an April 13 hearing in Franklin Circuit Court, Sheryl Snyder, a lawyer for Flutter Entertainment said British law does not recognize court judgments like Kentucky’s that award tripled damages.

Snyder said: “The statute in the United Kingdom treats the entire judgment as void and unenforceable. So the simple point is, my client believes that when you get to the United Kingdom to collect, they won’t let you domesticate the judgment.”

State law generally caps the sum that defendants must bond in such cases at $100 million, but the state’s lawyers are asking Winburn to require a far larger sum to be put aside in bonds by the company if the case continues.

PokerStars has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, even though the litigation has dragged on for a decade already.

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