PokerStars’ parent company Flutter Entertainment PLC has been ordered to turn over $100 million in secured bonds to the Commonwealth of Kentucky as part of a long-standing legal battle arising from PokerStars’ alleged illegal online poker operations in the state prior to Black Friday.
In December 2020, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that PokerStars should pay more than $290 million in damages for offering online poker illegally to Kentucky residents from 2006 to 2011. Last month, the same court junked a request from PokerStars to rehear the case, and the state then began the process of collecting $100 million in bonds that the online poker site posted when it started its appeal in 2016.
On April 20, Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ordered PokerStars’ new owner Flutter Entertainment to surrender the bonds. PokerStars was owned and operated by Amaya Gaming during the period cited in the lawsuit. Flutter Entertainment acquired PokerStars in May 2020.
The office of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is now planning to create an escrow account for the bonds.
Flutter Determined to Fight Back
In March 2021, when the Kentucky Supreme Court refused to rehear the case, Flutter stated that it would continue looking for legal avenues to fight the case. The company strongly disputes the basis of the judgment, and said it’s considering taking the case to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS).
While Flutter can indeed submit an appeal to SCOTUS, it’s worth noting that the court only caters to a small percentage of cases due for review. This being said, Flutter cannot guarantee that its legal fight against the Commonwealth of Kentucky would be accommodated by the US Supreme Court.
But considering the nature of the judgment, and the significant discrepancies in the damages ordered by Judge Wingate, the court may consider reviewing the case.
UK Law A Major Roadblock for Kentucky
Even if Flutter eventually fails to get the attention of the US Supreme Court, it’s not the end of the fight for the gaming company. Flutter is based in the United Kingdom and to complete the process of collecting the amount, Kentucky must try to collect the same judgment in the UK.
However, Kentucky lawyers will face a major roadblock getting there: British statute considers the Kentucky judgment as “void and unenforceable“, according to Flutter’s legal counsel Sheryl Snyder.