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Ky. high court: online poker site must pay state $1 billion

Ky. high court: online poker site must pay state $1 billion

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an online poker company must pay more than $1 billion to the state for illegal gambling losses in a court battle that began a decade ago.

The ruling from the state's high court reinstated a Franklin Circuit Court judgement against after the state appeals court rejected the collection of the gambling losses in 2018. At the time, the total stood at $870 million, plus interest.

Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news release that the total amount was nearly $1.3 billion that would be ordered to be recovered.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky has losses due to PokerStars’ illegal internet gambling criminal syndicate,” the court wrote in its ruling. “The amount recovered in this case may not cover the actual cost suffered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

The Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet filed the lawsuit in 2010. From 2006 to 2011, the state said, about 34,000 Kentucky residents lost more than $290 million wagered on PokerStars’ website. The company later blocked Kentucky residents from using the site.

In 2015, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate agreed with the cabinet's suit and ordered the company to pay back $290 million. Wingate then tripled that amount against the company for making what he said was “a calculation that breaking the law was good for business.”

Beshear said Thursday that the state would “take aggressive steps to collect the judgment for the benefit of all Kentuckians.”

An email message to a PokerStars spokeswoman did not get an immediate response Thursday night. An attorney for the company referred questions to the spokeswoman.