Interesting decision by a judge in Kentucky that wants to block internet gambling sites from operating with users in the state of Kentucky.
Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate wants the seizure of 141 online gambling domain names. Like China, Kentucky is now trampling on the freedoms of the citizens of the Commonwealth by blocking domains that are legal in most parts of the world.
In essence, the Judge has ruled that the domains related to online gambling operations will be seized by the State of Kentucky unless the sites somehow block access of their domains by those within Kentucky state lines. The Judge, who by all accounts does not understand the Internet, doesn’t care about how this impacts Internet business internationally stating, “This doomsday argument does not ruffle the Court.”
There is some overall concern on TM’s part to how this ruling will be perceived in the rest of the country and the world. It’s not like Kentucky doesn’t already have misguided perceptions that we are backward from the left and right coasts in the USA. The Kentucky State Judge doesn’t seem to mind that domains are not gambling devices, and that they are owned by predominantly international businesses where gambling is totally legal.
Also, one would think that the Judge would realize that most of these domains set to be seized don’t actually allow web-based gambling, but rather they link to downloadable software that players can download which don’t connect to the seized domains at all.
The following is the conclusion of Judge Wingate’s ruling thus far, and he has set a final hearing on the forfeiture of the domain names for November 17.
We note that Opposing Groups and Lawyers argue any judicial interference of the Internet will create havoc. This doomsday argument does not ruffle the Court. The Internet, with all its benefits and advantages to modern day commerce and life, is still not above the law, whether on an international or municipal level. The challenge here is to reign in illegal activity and abuse of the Internet within the framework of our nation’s and Commonwealth’s existing common law norms and principles, until express guidelines from sate and federal legislative bodies say other wise.
ACCORDINGLY, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that further proceedings will be held in the instant civil forfeiture action without delay. Moreover, IT IS HERBY ORDERED AND ADJUDGED as follows:
1. The Motions to Dismiss filed on behalf of the Group of 7, the Group of 2, of Interactive Gaming Council, of Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association, INC., are all hereby DENIED.
2. The Motion of the Interactive Gaming Council to intervene is DENIED.
3. The Court’s Seizure Order of September 18, 2008 is herby AMENDED so that any of the Defendants 141 Domain Names, their respective registrants or their agent, or any other person with an interest or a claim who, on or before 30 days from entry of this Opinion and Order, installs the applicable software or device, i.e., geographic blocks, which has the capability to block and deny access to their on-line gambling sites through the use of the Defendants 141 Domain Names from any users or consumers with the territorial boundaries of the Commonwealth, and reasonably establishes to the satisfaction of the Kentucky’s Justice and Safety Cabinet or this Court that such geographical blocks are operational, shall be relieved from the effects of the Seizure Order and from any further proceedings in the instant civil forfeiture action. The Court acknowledges that in ren jurisdiction is not unlimited. Once the domain name is satisfactorily shown as not being used in the Commonwealth for illegal or unlawful gambling, this Court relinquishes jurisdiction.
4. Upon showing of proof that geographic blocks and/or such other similar software or device have been installed and are operational by any registrant or person with interest over any of the Defendants 141 Domain Names, the COMMONWEALTH is herby DIRECTED to serve prompt written notice upon the registrar/s and/or registry/ies of the corresponding defendant Internet Domain Name that the Seizure Order, as to the said relevant Internet domain name, has been withdrawn or rescinded.
5. The Court hereby sets the final hearing on forfeiture on the 17th of November 2008, at 10:00 a.m./ EST.
6. The Seizure Order of September 18, 2008 REMAINS IN EFFECT as amended by this order.
SO ORDERED, this 16 day of October 2008.