The state of Kentucky is collecting the first $100 million of the $1.3 billion it won in a lawsuit against online poker giant PokerStars.
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate told the state Tuesday that it could collect the $100 million that the company was forced to post while the decade-long legal battle played out in court, according to the Lexington Herald-Ledger.
Last December, a Kentucky Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of the state and ordered the company to pay the 10-figure sum. It reinstated Wingate’s original ruling from 2015 when he ordered the site to pay $870 million.
The suit was originally filed in 2010 by Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet J. Michale Brown, who now serves as Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive cabinet secretary, for $290 million. It claimed that the site was illegally operating within the state’s borders and that 34,000 residents deposited on the site and lost about $300 million.
Following Wingate’s ruling, which upped the amount to $870 million after the state requested trebled damages, Stars filed an appeal and a Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed Wingate’s decision. The appellate court ruled that the state itself can’t sue on behalf of its citizens.
The state appealed to its highest court and got a ruling in its favor at the end of 2020. It also requested an additional 12% in interested payments, which the Supreme Court granted, and levied a total fine of $1.3 billion.
When the appeals process started, PokerStars was required to post $100 million in bonds through its insurance companies. Wingate ordered that those bonds must be surrendered to the state within the next 20 days.
Gov. Andy Beshear has not yet made a clear statement on how the state will use the money, but the judge wrote in his order that it will be placed into an escrow account created by the Kentucky’s legal team.
It’s unclear when or how the state will collect the rest of the money since PokerStars’ lawyers is trying to escalate the case the U.S. Supreme Court. They are also arguing that since its parent company is located in the Isle of Man, British law won’t allow the state to collect the sum.
“The statute in the United Kingdom treats the entire judgment as void and unenforceable,” said Sheryl Snyder, PokerStars’ lawyer. “So the simple point is, my client believes that when you get to the United Kingdom to collect, they won’t let you domesticate the judgment.”