A Closer Look At Kentucky
In a follow up to an earlier story, "Kentucky Governor Cracks Down On Online Gambling," WebProNews spoke to Governor Steve Beshear’s deputy communications director Jill Midkiff.
At issue is the Governor’s bid to shut down 141 illegal Internet gambling sites in the state and a pending civil suit that would force the sites to block access to Kentucky users or give up control of their domain names. A hearing on the matter is set for Thursday, September 25.
When asked about the possibility of Governor Beshear blocking access to other sites besides online gambling sites, Midkiff said there are no plans at this time to do so and that the Governor was focusing only on illegal gambling sites.
On the issue of Kentucky appearing to be backwards for trying to block online gambling sites, Midkiff said the state’s gambling laws are more prohibitive than other states.
When asked if it’s hypocritical for Governor Beshear to attempt to block gambling Web sites when he supports casino gambling in the state, Midkiff said that the Governor was focused on the illegal activity of such sites.
Many in the gambling industry are not happy about Kentucky’s move to take legal action to seize the domain names of online gambling Web sites.
John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), which has more than 13,000 members in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and more than one million members nationwide told WebProNews that Governor Beshear’s attempt to block access to online sites in the state "is hypocritical and shortsighted."
Pappas said," Online poker is and should remain a lawful activity in the Commonwealth, and the state could seek to regulate and tax it if they wish."
He went on to say, "Further, online poker is not a threat to the brick and mortar casino, rather it is a low stakes proving ground where people learn the game and take those skills to casinos. Just ask Vegas whether online poker has helped … not hurt their poker rooms. The thousands of Kentucky residents who play online poker should not be relegated to second class citizenship simply because they play a game of skill on the Internet."
Pappas said the PPA will be following the legal case very closely but it was doubtful it would have an official standing before the court.
When asked about the constitutionality of Kentucky blocking online gambling sites Pappas said," By blocking online gambling sites in Kentucky, Governor Beshear is also blocking these sites for residents of other states and countries. This clearly oversteps his bounds as Governor of Kentucky and likely violates several laws including the U.S. Constitution."
"Many of Governor Beshear’s arguments- that online poker is illegal, unregulated and without a mechanism to capture tax revenue- are false," said Pappas. "Online poker is not illegal under Kentucky law, is regulated in its home jurisdiction and the Commonwealth of Kentucky chose not to license and regulate poker Web sites."
Pappas said that if the Governor wants tighter regulations, taxation mechanisms and consumer protections on Internet gambling that he should support federal legislation by the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, H.R. 6870, which would add more oversight.