Amaya to appeal 'absurd' $870m Kentucky fine

Amaya to appeal 'absurd' $870m Kentucky fine

Thursday, December 24, 2015 Totally Gaming
The court trebled the original fine handed to PokerStars' owner

Amaya said it will appeal a “frivolous and egregious” Kentucky court ruling that fined PokerStars’ owner $870m (€794.1m).

Following the decision by Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate, the Canadian gaming operator said it intends to post a bond to stay the enforcement of the order and to appeal in early January.

Judge Wingate originally fined Amaya $290m last month, but trebled the award following a request from the state.

The award is based on money that PokerStars took from Kentucky players between 2006 and 2011, with the Commonwealth of Kentucky seeking damages on behalf of players based on an 1833 law.

“This is a frivolous and egregious misuse of an antiquated state statute to enrich the contingent-fee plaintiff's attorneys hired by the Commonwealth and not the people of Kentucky,” said Marlon Goldstein, Amaya’s general counsel. 

“Given that PokerStars only generated gross revenues of approximately $18m from Kentucky customers during the five years at issue, a damages award in excess of $800m is notable only for its absurdity.”

The original fine was based on the net losses of players, but Judge Wingate’s new order is related to gross losses of players without any reduction for winnings, bonuses or free play.

Amaya has already said it will seek damages from the former owners of Rational Group – the umbrella company which runs PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker – which it bought for $4.9bn last year, should it be forced to pay a fine to Kentucky.

The state, which began its action against PokerStars in 2010, alleged that from October 2006 – when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed - to April 2011, more than 34,000 Kentucky players lost money playing poker on its websites.

Amaya added that “no other state in the union has brought an action under this type of antiquated statute to recover alleged gaming losses in the name of a state”.

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