Within an unprecedented legal move, Kentucky state Governor Steve Beshear recently declared that 141 named poker and casino gambling domain names is going to be seized, since their corresponding websites are catering to the residents of Kentucky. Governor Beshear claimed these domains are regarded as being gaming devices, and thus, are at the mercy of the neighborhood Kentucky laws permitting their confiscation. Beshear also claimed that usage of these gambling sites by Kentucky residents, is directly cutting into Kentucky’s local industries, namely its state-sanctioned horse-racing and lottery industries.
Although all of the named gambling websites are physically located outside the United States (and are regulated by their local jurisdictions), the domain names themselves are registered with a U.S.-based registrar (GoDaddy.com). Thus, Beshear claimed this makes them at the mercy of local Kentucky law, which specifically outlaws “gaming devices “.Beshear claimed that the domain names themselves are regarded as being gaming devices. As a result, Beshear filed case that will require many of these 141 gaming site domain names to be confiscated and forfeited.
In a bizarre decision, Kentucky Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Wingate ruled in support of the their state of Kentucky, and set a compliance date of December 3rd, 2008, for many of these websites to block usage of Kentucky residents or be confronted by the forfeiture of the domain names lms99. Equally puzzling, was GoDaddy.com’s decision to follow Judge Wingate’s legal decision.
Those fighting this decision, lawyers for the Internet Gaming Counsel and the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (IMEGA), anticipate fighting the constitutionality of your decision, and anticipate appealing at both their state and federal levels. This will easily find yourself about to the Supreme Court for ruling. They contend that regulations being applied does not belong in the Cirtuit Court, because the global Internet does not affect local law.
Currently, there has not been a general consensus from the effected gaming sites, regarding if they anticipate abiding by the court’s decision. From early indications, it appears that there has been general “ignoring” of your decision on the part of the gambling websites, but the past decision they make remains to be seen.
The ramifications of your decision are enormous. If the gambling websites opt to comply and block access of the sites to Kentucky residents, then what is to prevent other states from seeking the exact same sanctions ? Moreover, if this decision stands, what will prevent your regional jurisidiction from stating a non-local website is causing economic and industry infringement on a nearby business ? Imagine if Johnny’s bookstore in Idaho, claims that Amazon.com is siphoning away business from its local store ? Will a nearby judge rule on the confiscation of the Amazom.com domain name, or rule that Amazon.com should block access to all or any Idaho residents ?
Unquestionably, Internet freedom are at stake here. The global nature of the Internet is obviously at risk given this decision, and it begs the question regarding whether local law can govern or restrict global law. The continuing future of the Internet as all of us know it today, may hinge on the past outcome and link between the appeal process.
Douglas Hayman, President of Expert Software Systems, is really a net and database developer and designer, that designs and hosts many different informational websites, such as for instance: