Amaya Gaming, which owns PokerStars, has been battling the state of Kentucky in court. And unfortunately, Amaya has lost their lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Kentucky, resulting in an $870 million win for the Bluegrass State.
Judge Thomas Wingate made the ruling after determining that PokerStars violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement (UIGEA) from 2006 to 2011. Wingate awarded Kentucky $870 million based on the total losses by the state’s residents in this five-year period. He also tacked on an additional 12 percent interest for each year until the entire amount is paid back.
Amaya is already working on an appeal that’s based on several aspects of the case. First off, they argue that Kentucky residents only lost $18 million; the $870 million figure doesn’t take into account any winnings or bonuses that the players earned from 2006-11.
Another problem with this case is that Kentucky used a 19th-century law that lets gamblers sue their opponents for losses. This law does not, however, allow a state like Kentucky to sue gambling companies for their own benefit. Given that none of the $870 million will be going to the actual players, this lawsuit is entirely for Kentucky’s benefit.
It certainly seems like Amaya has a good chance to win their appeal based on all the factors in the case. But assuming they don’t win the appeal, Amaya plans to seek the money from PokerStars’ old owner, the Rational Group.
Rational, an Israeli-based company that sold PokerStars to Amaya for $4.9b, led Stars during the time when they violated the UIGEA. This same company already paid $736 million to the U.S. government as part of a settlement. But the judgement that Kentucky won would see them get even more money than the federal government.