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Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear Potential Abuse of Power in Domain Issue

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Sep/23/2008
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear

The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA.org) suggested Tuesday that Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's attempt to seize 141 Internet domain names from online gambling websites is a "clear case of abuse of power".

"If that is not a clear case of abuse of power, I don't know what one is," Joe Brennan, Jr. founder of iMEGA, said.

Gov. Steve Beshear said his administration has asked a Franklin County Circuit Court judge to give the state control of 141 gambling Web site domain names. Beshear said he's looking to restrict Kentuckians' access to Web sites with names that include some of the most popular gambling sites for U.S. players: bodoglife.com, doylesroom.com and fulltiltpoker.com.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday before Judge Thomas Wingate.

"While he's at it he should ban Fox News and CNN from broadcasting in his home state," said one industry analyst who wished not to be named. "When you get down to it, this is about censorship plain and simple, worse than what is seen in Communist China and if I were living in Kentucky I would be outraged."

Commented one Gambling911.com reader: "This cannot be treated as a serious threat. This is like China taking control over Yahoo.com or Google.com for some news story that violates their censorship laws. Absurd. If Kentucky wants to stop gaming then they should block the sites, just like China does. Then they can be exactly like China with backwards, protectionist, practices. Let's see how something like that would go over in the home of the free."

Kentucky, home to the Kentucky Derby, already has a state lottery and allows gambling at horse tracks and bingo halls. Blocking internet gambling sites in Kentucky would "protect the signature industry," Beshear said.

Such sites "siphon off money from regulated and legal games such as Kentucky's thoroughbred racing industry, our lottery and charitable gaming activities," Beshear said.

Edward Leyden, President of the The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association, warned that such a "protectionist" statement is an "extraordinarily huge question of Constitutional inequity."

He explained that there was already an ex parte proceeding under the Kentucky forfeiture statute to discuss this matter but nobody within the online gambling industry was aware of it.

"That's okay because the law allows for this," he went on to say, but warned that Thursday will be the last opportunity for the industry to take a stand. "There needs to be someone from the industry present on Thursday. Who knows what the effect of the hearing before Judge Thomas Wingate will be? But we do know that an order will cast a dark shadow over these (Internet gambling) domains. Such an order would be extremely troubling to these companies."

iMEGA was in around the clock discussions with its legal counsel to determine the next steps to be taken in this matter. Those firms whose websites were named in the complaint were strongly advised to have legal representation at Thursday's hearing.

Brennan, Jr. points out that "Given the number of high profile site names on the list, the industry should be concerned. As Bodog struggled to regain its footing once it lost the right to their own domain in a patent infringement judgement, other brands can see what may be in store for them if Kentucky prevails.

"Suffice to say, we have every intention of intervening on the behalf of our members and supporters who are threatened by this action, to make sure they do not lose their property."

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Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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