Online gambling sites ready to fight Beshear's plan to block them

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Guest
Published on:
Oct/07/2008

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Internet gambling in Kentucky will be front and center in a Franklin Circuit Courtroom Tuesday as the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet will argue for blocking access to illegal online gaming sites.

Gov. Steve Beshear wants to block 141 gambling websites calling them illegal and unregulated. Monday, some of the people who represent those sites fired back calling the governor's action unconstitutional.

"Nobody has been as reckless as Kentucky has on this," said Edward James Leyden, attorney for iMEGA, Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association.

Watch video: Online gambling sites vow to fight effort to block access

Leyden, whose group was founded to foster cooperation between the online industry and government at all levels, and to promote innovation, openness and freedom on the Internet, was just one of the lawyers and representatives of 141 gambling web sites being targeted by Beshear who aren't happy to be in the Bluegrass state again.

"Here's how I react to it. Governor Beshear needs to read the constitution," said Leyden.

The group calls the move by the governor unprecedented and an attempt to limit competition in free marketplace.

"They compete with instate interests," Leyden said.

Specifically, the Kentucky Lottery and horse racing. They point to twinspires.com as a site that wasn't on the governor's list. But, Kentucky Justice and Public Safety officials say all the sites on the list operate offshore and are illegal. They say online paramutual wagering, like twinspires.com, is allowed by federal law and is fully regulated.

"I guess the perception is it's just out of staters and it's just people who aren't here in Kentucky, then it's a free ride," said Leyden.

John Pappas of the National Poker Players Alliance says his group supported Beshear's run for governor and his pro-gaming stance. Pappas says now his group has a message for the governor.

"We would welcome any proposal for you to regulate and tax online poker. And in fact if you move forward with your casino plans and they don't include a regulation and taxing for online poker, we will oppose those casino plans because of your position against our pastime," said Pappas.

Although some site owners have blocked access to Kentucky as they wait for a judge's ruling in the case, officials in the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet say the majority are still in operation.

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