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Saturday, February 22, 2014

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Kentucky court overturns seizure of gambling sites

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s efforts to seize 132 Internet gambling domain names is on hold after an appeals court ruled Friday that a trade association may represent the owners of the sites trying to fend off forfeiture proceedings.

The decision by the Kentucky Court of Appeals allows the Interactive Gaming Council to step into the 6-year-old case and, at least temporarily, keep the identities of the owners of various Internet gambling sites from being publicly revealed.

Judge Allison Jones, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, noted that Kentucky has treated the domain names as a group for much of the litigation but wants to handle them individually now to prevent the trade association from becoming involved.

“The Commonwealth cannot now turn the tables and ask the court to require each domain name owner to come forward individually and assert virtually identical legal arguments through separate counsel to resolve threshold, purely legal issues that affect the validity of the entire forfeiture procedure,” Jones wrote.

The appeals court sent the case back to Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Wingate for further hearings.

“Obviously, we consider this a win,” said Interactive Gaming Council CEO Keith Furlong. “We are also proud to be a catalyst for this decision which provides guidance to all associations seeking to represent their members in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

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Ky. lawmakers respond to Instant Racing ruling

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A state Supreme Court ruling on Instant Racing gambling machines drew a swift response Friday from some Kentucky lawmakers, who began drafting legislation to reinstate a tax on the slot-like games.

The state’s high court ruled Thursday that Kentucky can license and regulate Instant Racing.

But the justices returned the case to a lower court for more arguments on whether Instant Racing qualifies as a horse race or is illegal gambling. The Supreme Court also ruled that the Kentucky Department of Revenue lacks the authority to collect excise taxes on wagers placed on Instant Racing games.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Friday that lawmakers should take action in the coming weeks to tax the games. Failing to do so would provide a windfall for tracks offering the gambling machines, he said.

“The alternative would be to allow the racetracks that are currently licensed to conduct that activity to simply keep all the profits,” Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, told reporters. “It doesn’t make any sense to do that.”

Instant Racing games allow people to bet on the outcome of old horse races without knowing which contests they are betting on. The game is offered at Kentucky Downs in Franklin and Ellis Park in Henderson.

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