Appeals Court Hears Arguments in Kentucky Online Gambling Domain Seizure Case

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A Kentucky Court of Appeals three-judge panel heard today from attorneys arguing against Gov. Steve Beshear’s effort to seize the domain names of 141 gambling Web sites. In oral arguments, opposing attorneys concentrated on four areas:

1. Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate, who originally allowed the seizure of the domain names, does not have proper jurisdiction.

2. Domain names are not gambling devices.

3. Domain names can only be seized after a criminal conviction. The state has not even attempted to criminally prosecute the owners of the web sites in question.

4. Kentucky is prohibited by the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution from regulating interstate and international commerce.

Louisville lawyer Jon L. Fleischaker, who represents the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMega), compared Beshear’s actions this way: “Seizing a domain name is no different than the state seizing a casino billboard.”

The ACLU of Kentucky argued that the government is attempting to coerce the gaming sites into self-incrimination—which is prohibited by the Fifth Amendment—or risk losing their domain names.

There was no word as to when the three-judge panel will make a ruling in this case.