Sunday, September 28, 2008

Here's the latest per the Kentucky gambling insanity. From the AP:


Negotiations begin in online casinos suit
Some operators shut down week after state sued them

FRANKFORT - Gamblers in Kentucky will no longer be able to access some online casinos because of a legal fight being led by the state's governor.

Some online casino operators have begun blocking access to state residents a week after officials filed a suit against them, said Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Justice Cabinet. She did not immediately have a list of all the sites that would block Kentucky residents.

"Our objective is not to shut these sites down worldwide," Brislin said. "Our goal is to have these Internet gambling sites blocked in Kentucky."

Negotiations in the legal dispute over whether states that object to online casinos can block their residents from accessing the Web sites yielded no agreement before a court hearing Friday. More than 20 attorneys representing online casinos and state government argued various issues in the case, including a motion to dismiss.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate gave attorneys a week to file written arguments and scheduled another hearing for Oct. 7.

Gov. Steve Beshear, who based his election campaign last year on a promise to open casinos in Kentucky, has asked a judge to cut off access to 141 gambling Web sites by giving Kentucky control of the domain names. The move affects some of the world's most popular gambling sites.

Brislin said Goldencasino.com notified Kentucky account holders by e-mail Tuesday that its Web site will "no longer accept play from residents of Kentucky." Even so, Goldencasino.com attorney Alison C. Lundergan Grimes argued Friday that Kentucky state court is not the proper place for the case, which involves entities from around the world. Goldencasino.com, she said, is registered in the Netherlands.

Besides lawyers and reporters, several outraged poker players also sat through the hearing.

"Gov. Beshear is very naive if he doesn't believe there's going to be a political backlash from this," said Jay Springate, a poker player from Lawrenceburg. "There are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people in Kentucky who gamble on these Web sites. There will be a political backlash. No question about it."

Brislin said state lawyers want the online casino operators not only to block access in Kentucky but also to pay an unspecified amount of financial damages for lost revenue.

Kentucky allows gambling at horse tracks and bingo halls and operates a state-run lottery. Blocking gambling Web sites, Beshear said, will protect those operations from online competition.

Beshear contends Kentuckians are wagering millions of dollars through gambling Web sites and that the operators neither pay taxes to the state nor provide jobs.

The Democratic governor pushed the state legislature this year to approve a ballot referendum that, if approved, would have changed the state's constitution to allow casinos. Beshear said allowing casinos to open, then taxing them, would have raised some $500 million in additional state revenue. Kentucky lawmakers rejected the proposal.

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