Kentucky Supreme Court Overturns Ruling That Blocked State Seizure Of Gambling Domain Names

from the jurisdictional-mess dept

As you may recall, in a move that was blatantly designed to protect local gambling interests (no one denies this particular point), Kentucky passed a law allowing the governor to declare any gambling related website (even parked domains) “illegal gambling devices” and then to seize those domains. The governor moved to do so on over 100 domains — none of which had anything to do with Kentucky whatsoever. Amazingly, a judge agreed that the governor had every right to seize these domain names, despite the lack of a Kentucky connection. It’s not hard to see how problematic a ruling this is from a jurisdictional standpoint. Thankfully, the state’s appeals court overturned the lower court ruling. Separately, a UK court ruled that Kentucky had no right to seize UK-based domains.

The state appealed the ruling in the appeals court, and many assumed that the Kentucky Supreme Court would agree with the basic logic of the appeals court. Instead Ragaboo alerts us to the news that the Kentucky Supreme Court has overturned the appeals court ruling, effectively allowing the state to seize the domain names again. The ruling focused on a technicality, rather than on the merits — arguing that the Interactive Media and Gaming Association (iMEGA) and the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC), two gaming associations who brought the lawsuit in the first place, had no standing in the case and could not bring the case in question.

“Instead of owners, operators, or registrants of the website domain names, the lawyers opposing the Commonwealth claimed to represent two types of entities: (1) the domain names themselves and (2) gaming trade association who profess to include as members registrants of the seized domains, though they have yet to reveal any of their identities.”

The court even acknowledged that the lawyers on behalf of the associations made “numerous, compelling arguments endorsing the grant of the writ of prohibition,” but that “(a)lthough all such arguments may have merit, none can even be considered unless presented by a party with standing.”

Of course, it seems rather ironic that the issue here is standing, when you could just as easily ask what sort of standing the state of Kentucky has to seize a domain name based elsewhere? In the meantime, if any of the actual domain owners is willing to step forward, the case may be reheard — and hopefully the Kentucky Supreme Court will rule against the state on the merits and the simple fact that seizing domain names that have nothing to do with Kentucky sets an incredibly dangerous precedent.

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Comments on “Kentucky Supreme Court Overturns Ruling That Blocked State Seizure Of Gambling Domain Names”

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Danny (profile) says:

what's next?

I am trying to understand what happens next. Lets say none of the domain owners steps forward.

So, Kentucky goes to ICANN and demands the domain names?

Won’t ICANN simply say, “You don’t have standing to demand domain names.” And not give it to them.

Would Kentucky have to sue in Federal Court to force action by ICANN? It is fairly likely no Federal court will support this sort of action by a State.

Aira Bongco (user link) says:

I think the Kentucky governor is way over his league here. In fact, this is becoming a concern to me. How can they believe that they have the authority to seize any type of gambling domain name even if it is not based on their territory. I mean, honestly, does this give them the right to seize any gambling domain in the world. I don’t think so. And what about generic words or phrases like free lotto. Does this mean that this domain name is illegal too?

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