Poker Players Alliance Joins Kentucky State Lawsuit Against PokerStars

Posted on December 7th, 2015 by Jon Pineda

Poker Players Alliance Kentucky Bevin

Incoming Governor Matt Bevin (R) is expected to continue the crusade against online gambling in Kentucky, the Poker Players Alliance announcing this week it will seek to protect players in the Bluegrass State. (Image: Dylan Lovan/Associated Press)

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has filed a motion to join a lawsuit filed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky against PokerStars.

That might seem contradictory as the PPA is the leading advocate for online poker in the United States, but the action actually aims to accompany the litigation process in order to protect players.

Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet is going after unclaimed player bankrolls stemming from PokerStars’ illegal operations between 2006 and 2011. The PPA is hoping to join the suit to have a voice in the legal process and make sure the Commonwealth returns the monies to the rightful owners instead of the state capital pocketing the funds.

Untold millions of dollars remain in limbo after the US federal government in 2011 seized PokerStars and rival-turned-sister network Full Tilt.

New owner Amaya is currently in the process of settling those outstanding balances in New Jersey before it returns the two networks to the Garden State.

Kentucky lawmakers are allegedly looking to bypass that step and simply collect the funds for its own self-interests.

PPA to Intervene

PPA Executive Director John Pappas says Kentucky’s lawsuit is a deceptive move that takes advantage of its own citizens.

“This is a cynical big government money grab of private consumer dollars,” Pappas explained. “The affected players should be the ones who collect from this suit, not the government and certainly not the attorneys.”

PokerStars commended the PPA’s decision to get involved, though the world’s largest poker network doesn’t seem too concerned with the merits of the litigation.

Amaya VP of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser said the company welcomes “the intervention of the Poker Players Alliance” and “if there is a monetary judgment it should go toward the consumers.” He also added, “we do not believe the suit has merit.”

Kentucky Poker Blues

Public opinion regarding online poker seems to be changing for the better in the minds of those supporting legalization expansion.

Pennsylvania is poised to join Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware in permitting Internet card rooms in 2016, and a national conversation on online gambling has burgeoned thanks to daily fantasy sports.

Though its own Senator Rand Paul (R) is against almost anything that restricts individual liberties and has spoken out in support of online gambling, the majority of Kentucky legislators have overwhelmingly worked to prevent iGaming.

In 2008, Kentucky seized 141 gambling web domains and collected $6 million in 2013. The money was the reward of a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against PokerStars and Full Tilt in part of Gov. Steve Beshear’s (D) crackdown on Internet gambling.

Beshear’s two terms ends today, December 7.

“The Commonwealth has spent countless resources and time figuring out how to extort money from online poker companies,” Pappas stated. “They could have spent that time creating a safe and regulated market that would have raised equal or greater amounts of money to benefit the consumers and taxpayers of the Commonwealth both now and in the future.”

Kentucky has charitable gaming, horse racing, and a lottery, however it is one of just 12 states that does not offer commercial or tribal gambling.

It’s unlikely that will change with Governor-elect Matt Bevin (R) taking over the reigns in Frankfort. Though two of his former investment companies owned over $37 million in gambling stocks, Bevin says he opposes gambling on every level.

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