Why PokerStars will win $870m Appeal against Kentucky

PokerStars’ parent company, Amaya Gaming, recently lost a big lawsuit to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Judge Thomas Wingate, who’s from Kentucky, awarded the Bluegrass State $870 million after determining that PokerStars violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) from 2006-2011. Amaya is now set to appeal this decision because they don’t think that they owe anywhere near this amount. And below you can read three reasons why Amaya seems destined to win this appeal against Kentucky.

  1. The $870m Judgement is based on Total Player Losses

Amaya determined that PokerStars raked around $18 million from Kentucky residents between 2006 and 2011. However, the Commonwealth of Kentucky believes that they’re entitled to all the money lost by their residents at Stars. This is a ridiculous assertion when considering that Kentucky didn’t take into account anything their players won back or received through bonuses. The $870m that was awarded in this case is about 50 times what Stars actually made off this state’s players. It’s unlikely that any courtroom outside Kentucky will overlook winnings and bonuses when determining a settlement.

  1. All the PokerStars Money is going to Kentucky

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) requested to be a part of this case because they feared that Kentucky was trying to collect all the money for themselves. Unfortunately, the PPA was not granted permission to be on Kentucky’s side and ensure that winnings went to the players, rather than the state. As the PPA predicted, this lawsuit was all about a money grab for the Bluegrass State, and one that any appeals court will be looking at with plenty of scrutiny.

  1. The Law Kentucky used to win this Case doesn’t apply

Kentucky went after PokerStars under the banner of an early 19th-century law that applies to gamblers recouping losses from other gamblers. Given that Kentucky was not the gambler in this case, and Stars is not the gambler who beat them out of losses, it doesn’t make sense why they would get $870 million. What’s more is that no other states have tried to recoup money from Amaya using the same stature. So how was Kentucky able to use such a stature to earn nearly $1 billion for themselves?

In all likelihood, PokerStars will win their appeal and reduce the amount owed to around $20 million. Sure, there may be penalties assessed because Stars did violate the UIGEA and launder money. But there’s no way a judge can honestly award 50 times what PokerStars made off a small state with 4.1 million people. And even if Amaya loses the appeal, they’ll be going after PokerStars’ old owners, the Rational Group, to front the bill.

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