FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A Franklin County Circuit Court judge
refused Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to block access to
more than 140 online casinos in Kentucky.
Judge Thomas Wingate ruled that he will hear arguments on Nov.
17 before deciding whether to give Kentucky's state government
control of 141 domain names, which include the Internet's most
popular gambling Web sites.
"Opposing groups and lawyers argue any judicial interference of
the Internet will create havoc. This doomsday argument does not
ruffle the court," Wingate wrote. "The Internet, with all its
benefits and advantages to modern day commerce and life, is still
not above the law, whether on an international or municipal
Attorneys for the state claim the sites are illegally bringing
gambling into Kentucky. They claim the domain names are tantamount
to illegal gambling devices - which can be seized by the state -
and should be blocked to Kentucky.
Beshear, a Democrat, made his support for a constitutional
amendment legalizing casino gambling a central focus of his
campaign for governor last year. The governor tried and failed
earlier this year to get the General Assembly to put a proposed
amendment before voters.
Kentucky already allows gambling on horse racing and bingo, and
has a state lottery.
Gov. Steve Beshear released a statement that he was pleased by
"No one has been willing to step up and do anything about
illegal Internet gambling until now," Beshear said in the
statement. "We must protect our people, especially our children,
from this illegal and unregulated activity while also protecting
our legal and regulated forms of gaming in Kentucky."
Jeremiah Johnston, president of the Washington D.C.-based
Internet Commerce Association, said he thought the ruling could
have far-reaching ramifications on Internet commerce.
"With this decision, it's essentially throwing a wild card into
the mix," Johnston said. "I definitely fear copycat actions from
Ed Leyden, a Washington D.C. attorney for the Interactive Media
Entertainment & Gaming Association, said he did not believe the
domain names should be considered gambling devices. Leyden said he
believes the Kentucky court did not have jurisdiction.
"The issues are global," Leyden said.
Wingate, meanwhile, said online casinos that don't block access
to their Web sites in Kentucky could be ordered to forfeit their
domain names. Others that prove they've blocked access may be
released, he said.
Investigators found Internet gambling sites that already blocked
to Kentucky users, Wingate said. "The defendants' domain names are
virtual keys for entering and creating virtual casinos from the
desktop of a resident in Kentucky," Wingate wrote.
Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown
said it should be fairly simple for the companies to prove they've
blocked Kentucky's access. Brown, however, said he also wants the
Web site operators to notify Internet registrars that they're
blocking Kentucky's access as a guarantee.
"The burden's going to be on them," Brown said. "They ought
not have too much difficulty stopping them if they want to."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)