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Kentucky Seeks to Block Online Gambling, For Good

 5:51 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Kentucky Seeks to Block Online Gambling, [pcworld.com] For Good
The state of Kentucky's attempt to block resident's access to 141 online gambling sites has proceeded to the next level, as a Franklin County Circuit Court judge refused Thursday to dismiss the case. Judge Thomas Wingate denied pleas by the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association and the Interactive Gaming Council. Arguments will be heard on November 17 before a ruling is made in this case that has been ongoing since September.

The civil action brought by Michael Brown, Secretary of Justice and Public Safety, and endorsed by Democratic Governor Steve Beshear, seeks seizure of 141 domain names of popular online gambling websites.



 6:21 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've been following this rather closely.

Even if you aren't involved in this sector, you should be extremely worried about this.

If this ends up going through, it will set an extremely dangerous precedent.

These domains are NOT registered in Kentucky, have no "physical" presence in Kentucky, and are owned by companies in other countries where their business is completely legal, taxed, and regulated.

If Kentucky can take away the domains of foreign companies in such a way, simply because they don't like it (Kentucky has no law specifically forbidding online gambling), what is to stop other states, other countries, from doing the same?

What a stupid...stupid case. I absolutely believed this would be thrown out. I am blown away that the judge allowed it to move forward.


 6:34 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I, like Philosopher, am COMPLETELY shocked.

I will repeat what was said:

These domains are NOT registered in Kentucky, have no "physical" presence in Kentucky, and are owned by companies in other countries where their business is completely legal, taxed, and regulated.

This is akin to me saying, this guy down the street has a nicer house than me. He's current with his mortgage and taxes and I have no claim to the house, but I like it, so I will take it.

This is truly insane!


 6:43 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

What is the local community standard for obscenity and could that result in domains being snatched?

What is "consumer fraud" and could that result in State action against your domains?

Do you pay someone to post to your website? Is that disclosed? Might that amount to consumer fraud in some State? Forfeiture action to follow?

This is a wildfire in the making. Local politicians are forever looking for something to run on. Local politicians, including elected prosecutors, are forever prepared to take a stand on something that will get them publicity and give them something to say in their election campaign. Locals don't have to grasp the broader implications of their actions. They may not even begin to grasp the full scope of what they are entering into. They just need something - something they did - to run on. Forget that, in the end, the cost of any misstep will be borne by the taxpayers.

This is just the start. If other politicos are watching others will soon follow suit.

Add your voice, now, or be ready to be taken for fleece and mutton if the best you do is watch and worry.

Receptional Andy

 6:50 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

...the Defendant's 141 Domain Names transport the virtual premises of an Internet gambling casino into the houses of Kentucky residents.

From a skim-read through the court documents, it seems the issue is that the 141 websites allowed users from Kentucky to gamble (illegally) - it's noted that some other websites actually blocked access to users from Kentucky.

But even that isn't especially useful - how could a site owner be legitimately expected to know the detail of every law for every country there website resides in?

...the Defendants 141 Domain Names...have been "designed" to reach our state. According to the Commonwealth's counsel...if the...Defendants so chose, they can filter, block and deny access to a website on the basis of geographic locations.

If there is available technology...then having those filtering mechanisms should be a protocol that may be reasonably required in the "design" of their business plan and their doman name use.

[gpwa.org...] [Emphasis mine] (PDF)

Maybe Pageoneresults' plan to block the whole internet isn't so bad after all ;)

And if a domain name could potentially be legally classed as a "gambling device", what other definitions might be in the pipeline?

[edited by: Receptional_Andy at 6:59 pm (utc) on Oct. 17, 2008]


 6:59 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)


Operators of sites in other Internet sectors - such as social networking, video gaming, adult entertainment, even political and religious sites - may soon find themselves the targets of jurisdictions seeking to control them or shut them down entirely.

"What Judge Wingate has done is to create the ‘ultimate weapon' to be used by the powerful and influential to attack content they oppose," said Joe Brennan Jr., chairman of iMEGA. "This will enable government to eliminate competition from differing ideas, beliefs and commerce. This decision today is where it starts, but where will it stop?"


 6:59 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just don't see how a registrar outside of the USA can be forced to comply with any judgment from within.

Even if they win the case, is the decision enforceable? I just don't see how it can be.

If I were a company outside of the USA and got a letter saying by order of the state of KY you must hand over this property I would throw it out.

If the registrars don't have to comply then why would they because if they did they would lose most all of their clients.


 7:50 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I am surprised to see little outcry from WW on this issue. It's obvious that online gambling has now replaced the adult industry on the forefront of the battle between the U.S. Government and the rest of the world (miuns China and SKorea).

I've never understood who owns the domain name. I guess the question is if .com is a property of the US Gov or any other US organization. If that's the case, then they can take all 141 domain names, regardless of where they were registered.

If the domain name is not owned by any US entity and yet the NoCommonSence of Kentucky still takes the domains somehow, what's stopping Antigua, for example, from hammering out a law against online reservations, play a little game a-la Kentucky Law and claim all travel reservation domain names - Hotels, Orbitz, Expedia etc.?


 8:07 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I live in Kentucky and this is just a feeble attempt by the state legislature, heavily lobbied by the horse racing industry, to hang on to dwindling state revenue from gambling. The current governor had a proposal on the table for legalizing state casino gambling a couple of years back (which was fiercely opposed by the horse racing industry I might add), but when that failed they are now taking the "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to save tax revenue.

This approach resembles the activities of the RIAA and the MPAA to "fight rather than embrace". Although, just like music and motion pictures, there are most likely some unscrupulous online gambling sites litigating them will lend them more exposure (i.e. the "Streisand Effect") and just prolong the inevitable, i.e. changing marketplace due to a global economy.

The "seizure of Internet Domain Names" approach displays a complete lack of understanding of how Internet Name Registry works and the architecture of the Internet in general. This resembles the proposed legislation in Sweden (the FRA law) which purported to conduct e-mail surveillance on "just foreign bound e-mails, but not domestic", where anyone that understands e-mail routing knows that is very difficult to delineate.
Similarly to above, if state are allowed to control (or seize) domains of companies in other states or countries, just because it is accessed by individuals in that state, (and as Philosopher says) it sets a dangerous precedent and would undermine the fundamental principles behind the Internet.

Of course they could (try to at least) filter these 141 sites (What do you do when new sites emerge? Who decides then whether to add those?) for state residents, but we all know that there are many ways around that...

Hopefully they come to their senses and realize the potential for embracing the Internet to increase revenue instead of litigating to keep online gambling out. In other words "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em".


 8:30 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Someone said it best when the story broke.

If they think this makes sense then KY should hand over the JackDaniels dot com domain to Saudi Arabia because it is illegal to consume alcohol there and they don't block the website to citizens of that country.


 8:47 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just don't see how a registrar outside of the USA can be forced to comply with any judgment from within.

Even if they win the case, is the decision enforceable? I just don't see how it can be.

Pretty simple - Verisign is the end-all be-all arbiter of .COM, and it is most definitely US-based.


 9:11 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Did you check the domain's whois information?
They are all over the world, some US, but they are from many different countries.


 1:10 am on Oct 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Pretty simple - Verisign is the end-all be-all arbiter of .COM, and it is most definitely US-based.

Well if decisions like this are permitted to stand (or at least linger and fester), maybe .com will lose some of its appeal.

I think it all boils down to some in KY feeling their economic way of life threatened by these sites, and lashing out in the only way they think they can.

People want all of the benefits of a global economy, but none of the pitfalls. What if ALL non-KY websites should block KY (just to be safe). See how they like them apples.


 1:36 am on Oct 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

KY should hand over the JackDaniels dot com domain to Saudi Arabia

That's Tennessee. KY has Jim Beam. :)


 5:49 am on Oct 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

You know if they do this to gmabling then why dont they do this to #*$! ?


 8:48 am on Oct 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think the sites will only be blocked in Kentucky. Business as usual in other states.


 4:49 pm on Oct 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Actually, aren't the people who is gambling the law breakers?
They are who should be judged.


 6:56 pm on Oct 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

I doubt this will succeed. We would see an avalanche of such stupid requests effecting all kinds of industries


 9:14 pm on Oct 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Geolocation is advanced webmastery, and hard to do with any degree of accuracy thanks to proxies. Having someone knowledgeable set this up is an additional cost which the gambling industry would have to bear. Now, that may be expected of this type of website in any case, but imagine it extended to other industries.

I think there are a lot of websites that offend someone, somewhere, and unwittingly break local laws. Almost any forum with a politics section, for instance. What you may consider to be acceptable to do every day, in another country will land you in the slammer.

I doubt this will succeed.

I don't share your faith in the US justice system, but let's hope I'm wrong.


 1:27 pm on Oct 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

The ISP knows where the user is located, the site only knows where the ISP is inserting the traffic into the net. Time to counter claim against AOL and the like.


 3:36 pm on Oct 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

> I don't share your faith in the US justice system, but let's hope I'm wrong.

If you have enough money and take it will way up there there's justice...or more justice than you and I would receive with 'Cousin Vinny' as a lawyer. This is broad, and in theory Saudi Arabia can file to take aol.com because of its videos.

While the government can seize the house if you grow pot in it, and NYC takes the car if you're caught drunk, this effects multi billion dollar businesses and million of employees, not a person or two.


 7:41 am on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

very true walkman, but the sad part is, it has succeeded...at least for now. The judge ruled that the actual domain owners, not representatives, must appear in court at the next date and show that kentucky residents are being blocked. If they are, the suit will be dismissed against them, if not, they will take the domains.

Obviously, there will be appeals, but the sad fact is, for now, it has succeeded. I'm still shocked the judge actually ruled this way.


 12:46 pm on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

in all fairness the court is just saying: This is illegal in KY. Stop it and we call it even. Until appeals run their course, blocking is relatively easy. If blocking still doesn't work 100% due to limits on tech, they have a legitimate excuse.

They can take this on state appeal courts, federal court, and maybe even the Supreme Court sees it as a defining State vs Fed issue.


 4:14 pm on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

yes, blocking is relatively easy, BUT if you noticed the judge has required that all domain owners must show up. That is the catch. They cannot have a representative such as a lawyer show up. It must be the actual owner of the domains.

The problem is, if you have followed this sector at all, the minute these owners step foot on US soil, the DOJ will arrest them.

They've already done this with various other owners and execs of various gambling establishments. Some of them are still being held close to a year later.

Do you really think any owner is going to risk almost certain jail? Nope. Which means the domains will be confiscated unless an appeal is successful.

I still think, in the end, it will work itself out, but in the meantime, the judges ruling, because of the requirement for domain owners to show, is basically a win as no owners will show.

I'd be willing to bet, the DOJ is actually involved in this case if only in an advisory role.


 6:49 pm on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is incredible. It is probably a good thing though, in that it has highlighted that if push comes to shove the US government can shut down any site they like in any country, just because it contravenes their local laws.

It worries me that the internet is 100% based on the sensibilities and sanity of America, especially since American politics has been proving itself increasingly lacking in either quality. If the economy continues its downturn or the perceived terrorist threat intensifies, I wonder what will be next.

This should be thrown out at the first opportunity, and the web should start moving away from centralised US control of what is essentially a set of global TLDs. Either .com should be claimed by the US as a sign of US targeting and we should set up an international set of TLDs for companies targeting the world, or the US should set up a series of US-specific TLDs and .com should be set free.


 10:46 pm on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

"I am blown away that the judge allowed it to move forward."

You're not from the south, are you.

The righteous try to save you from yourself here (the south).

FWIW, I live in a town that tried to pass a leash law a few years back...

....for cats.


 10:48 pm on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

...on a serious note (and proxies aside), a good portion of the state probably lives within 30 minutes of state borders (VA, TN, OH, WV, etc), so they could go across state lines to access gambling sites, just as people do in these states for cheaper sales taxes, alcohol, or cigarette prices.


 11:07 pm on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

You're not from the south, are you.

Kentucky is a southern state?


 11:31 pm on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Actually I live in Texas so yep...from the South. I've seen some dumb things, but this one still has my head spinning. :)

Our leaders' arrogance continually makes my head hurt.

[edited by: Philosopher at 11:32 pm (utc) on Oct. 21, 2008]


 12:55 pm on Oct 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

I agree with all the statements above about how this is opening the door for the net to become a police state :(

What I struggle to get a handle on is:
1. There is no law against reading about online gambling (so the website should be safe)
2. Even gambling software is not illegal (so downloading and playing free should be safe)
3. KY users are going to the site, casinos sites are not forcing them onto KY based pc's

Seems with the above that KY should pass local regulation to restrict wagering within their borders anything beyond that is KY state law becoming a global edict!

This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >
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