All PokerStars efforts to be legalized in the growing US gambling market could go down the drain. The reason is the satisfied lawsuit of the state of Kentucky amounting to $ 1.3 billion for the old sins of the previous owners of the company. For reference, this is roughly half of the annual turnover of Flutter Entertainment, which now owns Stars.
The most influential and the biggest poker operator on the planet, PokerStars, might have lost a fortune. This could happen if the appellate court upholds the Kentucky claim against Pokerstars. These intense events, followed by millions of poker persons around the world, developed as described below.
In 2015, the Franklin Circuit Court forced the largest online poker operator PokerStars to pay the government almost $900 million. After numerous appeals from both sides, in mid-December 2020, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld all 2015 rulings. Now the largest online poker community, PokerStars, will have to fork out. Taking into account the interest, the poker room must pay approximately $1.3 billion. It might be a huge loss to PokerStars. No other gambling room on the planet has ever been fined such severe recoveries.
However, the lawyers of Flutter Entertainment, the owner of the poker room, are not going to give up. Every person in the Holding is sure that the continuation of litigation will follow in 2021. Judges must be ready for a huge fight. This is just the beginning. It is not a common case any longer. PokerStars is not fluttering. Now only one thing is clear. Pokerstars will defend its interests to the bitter end. However, justice comes first.
The essence of the conflict between PokerStars and Kentucky
In 2010, the Commonwealth of Kentucky attorney filed the first lawsuit against PokerStars. The bottom line was that the poker operator grossly violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Acts and illegally extorted nearly $18 million from the Kentuckians in rake. The amount of the claim was nearly $ 300,000,000. At that time, all communities in Kentucky were out for PokerStars scalps.
Stages of Amaya Gaming Group’s Claims against PokerStars
The severe fight between Pokerstars and Kentucky began almost eight years ago. More than 100 lawsuits have already been filed against the largest gambling operator in the world. The poker room’s lawyers are not going to give up and make hundreds of prudent arguments in favor of protecting their company. A huge part of the whole job has already been done. Pokerstars has already appealed to the US Supreme court. It is very likely that the litigation could last for years. The main stages of the Amaya gaming group’s claims against PokerStars are as follows.
- 2013 – Investigation on PokerStars poker room operating in the state of Kentucky between 2006 and early 2011 was finally ended. The lawsuit against the gambling operator emphasized that the poker room’s activities were not carried out according to the rules of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. This law prohibits the use of certain payment instruments, credit cards, and money transfers for online gambling. In the end, law enforcement officers ruled that PokerStars acted illegally and attracted more than 35,000 Kentucky players who spent nearly $300 million.
- 2015 – Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Wingate ruled that PokerStars cheated the United States. Therefore, the room was obliged to pay a triple fine of $870.5 million. All funds must be credited to the Kentucky budget. The basis for such an unpredictable ruling of the judge Wingate was the law, according to which the organizers of illegal card games must fully compensate the losses of the players.
- 2018 – The Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned the previous judgment to pay that huge fine. The reason was quite obvious – the state cannot sue on behalf of Kentuckian residents without their knowledge.
- 2020 – The Kentucky Supreme Court finally ordered Poker stars to pay the government $1,300,000,000 of recovery, including 12% in interest that has been charged since 2015. However, it is still exactly unclear how many laws Pokerstars really violated.
According to Andy Beshear, Governor of Kentucky, this is a huge benefit to the state. Appealing to the Kentuckians, he stressed that the amount of the fine is incomparable with the damage caused by the poker operator to thousands of Americans. Moreover, Gov. Beshear is a little bit disappointed by the court’s decision. He is sure that the fine should be at least three times as large.
And although the Governor of Kentucky earlier this year urged lawmakers to pass a law on online gambling, he called PokerStars’ actions “completely irresponsible.” The governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky also stated that PokerStars must be forced to stop providing online poker games forever. After the decision of the Supreme Court, PokerStars will definitely be obliged to pay the required amounts to the state government. Therefore, both parts of the conflict are confident in their righteousness and are determined only to win in court.
What do American gamblers think?
American gamblers in 35 states have been waiting for several years for the US government to allow Pokerstars to officially operate in the American online poker market. Hundreds of thousands of professional gamblers are confident that everyone will benefit from such a deal. The US budget will be officially replenished from taxes that Pokerstars will pay. In turn, gamblers will be able to legalize their income from the game and also pay taxes. Therefore, everyone is disappointed that the US government does not make concessions to the Stars.
Concerning the multimillion-dollar fine, American gamblers consider such claims to be complete nonsense and absurdity. The point is that everyone who plays poker must be 18 years of age or older. Hence, they make a conscious choice to gamble, which is what poker is. Therefore, there is no reason to say that unhappy players have suffered from the actions of Pokerstars. It is just a platform that provides players with a place to play and takes a rake for it. Therefore, there is simply no legal basis for such a huge fine.
What is PokerStars going to do next?
While there are still options, for example, the gambling house may not pay, but then the company will have to leave the promising market of American online poker, online casinos, and sports betting. The room`s bosses can try to negotiate with an uncompromising state of Kentucky and bring down the full amount of the fine. And, probably, PokerStars can go to the US Supreme Court or some other courts of appeal.
Overall, it must be stated that Stars’ investors and the acting Chief Executive Officer were not very troubled by this news. The company’s shares fell only by less than a percent. It is even possible that the holding’s lawyers will definitely demand to completely change the panel of justices.
Therefore, the first severe case was recorded when the state fined the largest online gambling operator for the largest monetary penalty in history. Poker market experts of the PokerBroz.com team are confident that the owner of PokerStars, Flutter Entertainment, will not give up so easily. The room’s lawyers will try to appeal the court decision and reduce the amount of the fine. In 2021, the continuation of the claims will undoubtedly follow. Meanwhile, PokerStars keeps on holding online poker tournaments allowing hundreds of players to enjoy the game.