A Kentucky appeals court has recently overturned what is considered to be the largest ruling against a company in the history of the state. The three-judge appeals court panel voted to release the Stars Group, formerly PokerStars, from an $870 million judgment that was awarded back in 2015 by a trial judge.
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate, in 2015, ruled that PokerStars had been found to have “willfully violated Kentucky anti-gambling laws” by offering online poker to the residents of Kentucky. According to, Jack Conway, the then Kentucky state Attorney General, about 34,000 people took part in PokerStars’ offerings between 2006 and 2011. The judge stated that PokerStars did not have to necessarily pay it all at once but they would incur a 12 percent interest charge until all of the $870 million had been paid in full.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006 was a major turning point for online poker in the United States since it signaled the departure of major online poker sites including 888Poker and PartyPoker. However, some other private operations such as PokerStars kept accepting players from the country even after the UIGEA was signed into law. This was until 2011 when the poker world was hit by “Black Friday” and PokerStars finally departed from the United States market after it and some other sites were seized by the country’s authorities.
Amaya Gaming, the precursor of The Stars Group stated that the company would appeal the Wingate ruling and it took them three years to do so. After reviewing the case, the Kentucky appeals court three-judge panel chose to overturn the decision on Friday, stating that neither the state nor the Attorney General had the legal rights to sue for any monies that might have been wagered during the period in question.
“We applaud the decision of the highly-respected three-judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals,” Marlon Goldstein, the Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer of The Stars Group commented. “The merits of the case prevailed, and we look forward to putting this matter behind us as we sharpen our focus on executing on our growth strategy going forward.”
As expected, the state of Kentucky is not too happy with the decision that was made by the three-judge panel of the appeals court with the Mike Wynn, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, delivering a statement that revealed plans by state officials to appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court. Still, the Stars Group is pretty convinced that the legal team in the Bluegrass State still has lots of options available to them. In fact, the company expects the state to either seek discretionary review of the Court of Appeals decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court or petition for the petition for the Court of Appeals for a rehearing. Keeping that in mind, they intend to vigorously dispute any and all liability in case the Kentucky Supreme Court grants review and hears the appeal.