Within an unprecedented legal move, Kentucky state Governor Steve Beshear recently declared that 141 named poker and casino gambling domain names is going to be seized, since their corresponding websites are catering to the residents of Kentucky. Governor Beshear claimed these domains are regarded to be gaming devices, and thus, are subject to the neighborhood Kentucky laws permitting their confiscation. Beshear also claimed that utilization of these gambling sites by Kentucky residents, is directly cutting into Kentucky’s local industries, namely its state-sanctioned horse-racing and lottery industries.
Although most of the named gambling websites are physically located not in the United States (and are regulated by their local jurisdictions), the domain names themselves are registered with a U.S.-based registrar (GoDaddy.com). Thus, Beshear claimed that makes them subject to local Kentucky law, which specifically outlaws “gaming devices “.Beshear claimed that the domain names themselves are regarded to be gaming devices. Therefore, Beshear filed case that requires all of these 141 gaming site domain names to be confiscated and forfeited.
In a bizarre decision, Kentucky Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Wingate ruled in support of the the state of Kentucky, and set a compliance date of December 3rd, 2008, for all of these websites to block usage of Kentucky residents or be met with the forfeiture of the domain names lms99. Equally puzzling, was GoDaddy.com’s decision to adhere to Judge Wingate’s legal decision.
Those fighting this decision, lawyers for the Internet Gaming Counsel and the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (IMEGA), anticipate fighting the constitutionality of the decision, and anticipate appealing at both the state and federal levels. This can easily find yourself planning to the Supreme Court for ruling. They contend that regulations being applied doesn’t belong in the Cirtuit Court, considering that the global Internet doesn’t apply to local law.
Currently, there’s not been a general consensus from the effected gaming sites, regarding when they anticipate abiding by the court’s decision. From early indications, it seems that there’s been general “ignoring” of your decision on the part of the gambling websites, but the past decision they make remains to be seen.
The ramifications of the decision are enormous. If the gambling websites opt to comply and block access of the sites to Kentucky residents, then what’s to avoid other states from seeking exactly the same sanctions ? Moreover, if this decision stands, what’ll prevent your regional jurisidiction from stating a non-local website is causing economic and industry infringement on a nearby business ? What if Johnny’s bookstore in Idaho, claims that Amazon.com is siphoning away business from its local store ? Will a nearby judge rule on the confiscation of the Amazom.com domain name, or rule that Amazon.com should block access to all or any Idaho residents ?
Unquestionably, Internet freedom are at stake here. The global nature of the Internet is obviously in danger with all this decision, and it begs the question regarding whether local law can govern or restrict global law. The continuing future of the Internet as we all know it today, may well hinge on the past outcome and link between the appeal process.
Douglas Hayman, President of Expert Software Systems, is just a net and database developer and designer, that designs and hosts many different informational websites, such as for example: