- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky taxpayers are about to win a multimillion-dollar judgment against an online poker company, and about 14,000 poker players have told a judge they deserve the money since they are the ones who lost it.

The Kentucky Justice and Public Safety cabinet sued the company that owns PokerStars in 2010 for violating the state’s anti-gambling laws. They are seeking to recover money lost by Kentucky players between 2006 and 2011.

After years of litigation, Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in favor of the state. However, he has not decided how much money the state should receive. On Wednesday, Wingate indicated he was willing to give the state triple the amount of damages. Lawyers for the state say that could be as much as $750 million.

Lawyers for Poker Players Alliance asked Wingate to let them intervene in the case. The nonprofit group said it represents more than 1 million poker players across the country, including about 14,000 in Kentucky.

“We believe the poker players themselves are entitled to recover the money,” Cox said. “Nobody in this case is speaking for poker players. Not the commonwealth, they don’t care what happens to poker players. They want to get the money themselves.”

Attorneys for the state said the poker players are colluding with the poker company to limit the amount of damages that could be awarded.

Kentucky is suing the poker company under a law that allows third parties to collect triple the amount of damages. If the poker players intervene, the lawyers said the judge would then not be allowed to triple the damages, thus significantly reducing the how much Amaya, PokerStars’ parent company, would have to pay.

“They are not actually seeking to recover money for the poker players. If they had intended to do that, they would have done it many years ago when the money was actually lost,” attorney Bill Hurt said. “This is an attempt to redo this case and start it all over as a different case after they have lost.”

Cox said the alliance did not know about this case until 10 days ago, something Hurt disputes. Wingate did not rule on the alliance’s request on Wednesday. He said plans to have a ruling on the issue soon and a ruling on how much money the state should receive.

Both sides indicated they would likely appeal the rulings.

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