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Kentucky Supreme Court reinstates over $1 billion in a judgment against PokerStars

(Source: AP)
(Source: AP)(AP)
Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 7:11 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - The state is in a better position to help Kentuckians as the state recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic according to Gov. Andy Beshear after a Thursday ruling from the state Supreme Court.

The court reinstated a nearly $1.3 billion award to the state in a judgment against PokerStars. It was a reinstatement of a December 2015 judgment from Franklin Circuit Court, concluding a decade-long fight against illegal offshore gambling.

“This will never be enough to make up for the damage to Kentucky families and to the state from their years of irresponsible and criminal actions, but this is a good day for Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “This better positions us to emerge from this painful pandemic to help Kentuckians, help our businesses, provide quality health care to more Kentuckians, strengthen our public schools and keep our promise to educators and other public employees – some of whom were on the front lines battling the fallout from their greed.”

J. Michael Brown, then-Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet under Gov. Beshear’s father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, brought actions on behalf of the state in Franklin Circuit Court in 2008. The action sought to stop unregulated, untaxed, and illegal offshore gambling from the website. Between 2007 and 2011, PokerStars, then the largest offshore illegal gambling operator, collected almost $300 million in cash losses from Kentuckians who played on their websites. The state sought recovery of the $300 million.

The majority opinion of the court said: “The Commonwealth’s recovery in this case is certainly not a windfall, as the Court of Appeals seems to assume; rather, it is a recoupment of some portion of the countless dollars the criminal syndicate has cost Kentucky collectively and Kentuckians individually. The Commonwealth of Kentucky suffered financial losses along with the tragic damage to its citizens. Mental and physical healthcare systems that care for the citizens harmed by the illegal gambling are supported in part by the state. Money sent to offshore gambling accounts is lost and the state deprived of the taxes to which it is entitled. The cost to prosecute and incarcerate individuals who resort to crime to support their gambling is a huge cost on Kentucky’s strained and overextended penal system. The Commonwealth of Kentucky has losses due to PokerStars’ illegal internet gambling criminal syndicate. The amount recovered in this case may not cover the actual cost suffered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Once the opinion is final, the state will take aggressive steps to collect the judgment to the benefit of all Kentuckians.

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