Kentucky triples compensation claim against PokerStars to $870 million


Toronto listed Amaya Inc’s ongoing Kentucky compensation dispute has hit Christmas headlines as Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ups the operators fine to $870 million.

Ruling in favour of the state’s compensation claim against Amaya subsidiary PokerStars, in relation to online gambling services offered to Kentucky consumers between 2006 and 2011.

Judge Wingate allowed Kentucky State to triple its damages claim from $290 million (awarded in Dec 2015) to $870 million. The judge further warned Amaya that failure to begin payment on its compensation would be met with a 12% yearly interest fee.

Kentucky legislators have justified the state’s severe penalty against PokerStars, by detailing that the company had breached existing Commonwealth laws relating to gambling. The state could therefore penalise the operator by collecting its residents illegal gambling losses.

Amaya’s legal counsel has labelled the compensation claim as absurd, further stating that the company had moved to form an appeal against the fine.

In its legal proceedings against Kentucky, the operator has stated that the money accrued from Kentucky consumers during the period would amount to an estimated $18 million.

Issuing a statement Marlon Goldstein, Executive Vice President, Corporate Development and General Counsel of Amaya, noted

This is a frivolous and egregious misuse of an antiquated state statute to enrich the contingent-fee plaintiff’s attorneys hired by the Commonwealth and not the people of Kentucky. Given that PokerStars only generated gross revenues of approximately US$18 million from Kentucky customers during the five years at issue, a damages award in excess of US$800 million is notable only for its absurdity.”

“Amaya intends to vigorously dispute any liability that may be ordered at the trial court level, and believes that there are a number of compelling legal arguments reserved for consideration, including, without limitation, the lack of standing to bring this proceeding in the name of the Commonwealth and the Court’s failure to properly apply the law.”

Amaya will launch its appeal against the Kentucky State compensation in January 2016. The company and its representatives are confident of overturning the Judge Wingate’s $870 million penalty claim.

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