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Leyden, Fleischaker Lauded for Kentucky Gambling Fight

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Dec/19/2008

The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association has taken center stage in the fight to ensure online poker and sports betting become one's legal right.  Juggling a federal and state appeal hasn't always been busy but iMEGA attorney Edward Leyden has somehow managed and last Friday's battle in a Kentucky appeals court appears to be turning the tide in the industry's favor, albeit slowly.

Leyden has been working closely with local counsel in that state.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals listened to oral arguments this past Friday in a suit brought by the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association to block the seizure of 141 Internet domain names by the Kentucky government.  Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear brought the suit using a group of high profile Chicago-based attorneys.  It should be noted that Kentucky's Attorney General, Jack Conway, to his credit, wants no part in legal action.  In fact, he immediately requested that his name be removed from the legal filings. 

Attorneys for iMEGA, an Internet trade association in Washington, DC, asked the appeals court to overturn a lower court ruling ordering the seizures, on the grounds that the commonwealth's attorneys improperly tried to create a hybrid of criminal and civil laws to justify seizing the domain names without any normal criminal or civil proceedings.

"It is not sufficient for the state or a lower court judge to decide on their own that there is a criminal violation," said Jon L. Fleischaker, iMEGA's lead attorney from Dinsmore & Shohl in Louisville. "They don't like this (Internet gambling), Fleischaker said, "so they seized the names without hearing or process."

Erik Lycan, lead attorney for the commonwealth, raised a few eyebrows during questioning by Judge Michelle M. Keller, when asked about the commonwealth's assertion that domain names constituted "gambling devices". Judge Keller asked if, given that logic, the state had a right to seize the buses that transported people across the the bridge to Indiana to gamble in that state's legal casinos. Lycan responded yes, the state had that right.

"I think Ed, Joe (Brennan, Jr - founder of iMEGA) and the entire gang over there are really making some terrific headway," said one of the few dozen members of the industry trade organization.  "They are really fighting for our industry and need to be commended."

Brennan, Jr. just got through meeting with a few dozen of iMEGA's members in Costa Rica, home to over half the online gambling websites in the world.

This was the top story on WKYT News last Friday night

WKYT questioned the Constitutionality of Beshear's actions. 

Domain names are like billboards across a highway and expressions of speech, the report suggested.

While Kentucky regulates gaming in the state, lawyers argue that all of the 141 online gambling domain names operate outside the United States in places as far away from Kentucky as South Africa.

"Some feel that Kentucky is taking on the world," the WKYT report said.

 

"If we can do it to them, don't you know, they can do it to us," one of the attorneys said in before the judge, making an obvious reference to countries that could come after just about any US based website including church sites deemed offensive in other nations.

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

 

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