On Wednesday, Judge Thomas Wingate awarded $870 million to the state of Kentucky in a judgment against the online gambling company Amaya Incorporated. Amaya Is the parent company of PokerStars, an online gambling company to which over 34,000 Kentucky players lost at least $5 on average. Kentucky is in the process of suing multiple online gambling companies for having operated illegally in the state. The original damages awarded for the case were $290 million, but both the state and Amaya asked for a reassessment.
The state is suing as a third party on behalf of poker players in accordance with an 1833 statute that allows a third party to sue to recover gambling losses if the gambler does not sue within six months. Amaya lawyers have argued that the state is not a third party and should not be allowed to sue for losses. At the same time, the Poker Players’ Alliance has filed a motion to intervene in the case, saying that the players should be entitled to some or all of the judgment.
When asked whether or not Amaya would attempt to appeal the award, Sheryl Snyder, the Amaya lawyer, said that they would.
“Absolutely, we plan to appeal. We think that awarding $870 million against a company that did $18 million in revenue is a total misuse of an anachronistic statute.”
Nonetheless, Judge Wingate stood his ground, saying that Amaya may “find the final damage award to be harsh medicine. Such is the consequences for violating the laws of Kentucky.”
So far he has not addressed the Poker Players’ Alliance’s intervention into the case.
The total amount awarded to Kentucky was $870,690,233. Wingate also set the interest rate at 12% annually until full payment is complete. Since Amaya intends to appeal the decision, it could take years to alter the judgment. If the current judgment is not amended, every additional year that Amaya waits will add over 100 million more dollars to the total that they must pay.
While Amaya argues that the PokerStars brand was only worth 18 million annually at the time of this case (Oct. 2006 to April 2011), court documents show that the parent company of Amaya purchased PokerStars for $4.9 billion in 2014. It seems like the state sees a company with large assets and is going to try and get as much money as they can. However, whether or not it is right for the state to request $870 million off of $5 losses from players (and not allow the actual poker players in question to intervene on behalf of their money) is questionable at best.
Image source: kycir.org