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Update on
  • Flutter Entertainment will continue to fight a recent ruling against the PokerStars brand 
  • According to the Kentucky Supreme Court, PokerStars ought to pay $870 million and interest for running operations between 2006 and 2011
  • Flutter is preparing to appeal the decision in the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS)

Flutter Entertainment will appeal a recent ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court in the United States Supreme Court. Flutter is challenging a previously overturned ruling that its PokerStars brand must pay $1.1 billion in back taxes. 

Kentucky Slaps PokerStars with $1.1bn Fine Again

The Stars Group and PokerStars, now both owned by Flutter Entertainment, have been denied another appeal over a previous ruling reached back on December 20 when Kentucky decided that PokerStars should honor $1.1 billion in payments to the state which the card room had failed to honor while it was operating as an unlicensed website offering poker products to residents.

Following this week’s ruling of the Kentucky Supreme Court, PokerStars is left with almost no legal wiggle room, and it could soon have to cough up the required amount. In case you don’t know the back story, it goes back to 2011 when the US government enforced the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act or UIGEA, taking aim at unlicensed operators of various gaming products, including poker.

Back when UIGEA struck, the then-active Governor, Steve Beshear, obtained a court order and blocked access to 141 gambling websites that were readily available on the state’s territory. While most got away scot-free, Kentucky and Gov. Beshear went after the big fish.

Specifically, the state argued that companies such as PokerStars owed the commonwealth money back for the profit they have generated without being subject to tax from 2006 to 2011. This amounts to $870 million and interest totaling $1.1 billion in the specified time window. 

PokerStars has tried fighting off the case on multiple occasions. First, it challenged the ruling, which resulted in the dismissal in the case in 2018 by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. PokerStars was in the clear, but not for long, as the Commonwealth of Kentucky decided to seek the state’s highest instance, the Kentucky Supreme Court. 

Flutter to Challenge the Ruling

This eventually led to the reopening of the case, which was settled by the Supreme Court on March 25, ruling against PokerStars. However, Flutter Entertainment has not stood idly by and submitted a new request to stay the Supreme Court decision as the company is now preparing a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS), which can effectively overrule the Kentucky Supreme Court. Flutter published a statement explaining the company’s determination to continue and seek a successful legal outcome for PokerStars and its own operations:

“Flutter is disappointed by the denial of its rehearing petition and continues to strongly dispute the basis of this judgment. Together with its legal advisors, Flutter will continue to consider its position in relation to the judgment, including potentially appealing the ruling of the case to the US Supreme Court along with other legal avenues which it may pursue thereafter.”

Flutter is definitely in its right to seek the state’s money back, but so is Kentucky from the state’s standpoint. Unregulated gaming is no longer the United States case, but the lingering ghost of previous operations is still ongoing.

Suppose one thing has become clear over the past years of legal to-and-fro: neither party wants to let up from their claim on the money. Kentucky is also looking to expand into regulated gambling, although not much progress has been achieved recently.