Pokerstars Settlement Boosted

PokerStarsIn recent development the Kentucky judge increased the settlement amount from $290 million to $870 million, without intentions to pay out former players.

In 2011, Pokerstars was one of many online poker companies who had their domains seized and were no longer able to offer their services to citizens of the US. While this alone was bad enough, hundreds of thousands of players woke up one morning and were no longer able to access their bankroll. Some players lost only a few dollars, but others were out thousands and thousands of dollars. Now, more than 4 years later, a massive civil court case and resulting settlement are being debated. The most recent development is a shocking one, as the presiding judge upped the settlement total by about triple. What this means for former players is what everyone is now trying to figure out. Conventional wisdom would tell you that those who lost money will be reimbursed, but so far that much has not even been considered as a possibility. With that being said, however, it seems as though this legal battle is far from over and that additional twists and turns are in the cards.

Judge Makes Surprising Decision

Judge Thomas Wingate, who has been presiding over the Kentucky civil case since it was created, decided on a settlement at the beginning of December that totaled $290 million. Because Pokerstars no longer exists in the US, the company that bought their assets, Amaya Inc., is the one that will be forced to pay out the money to the state of [geolink href=””]Kentucky[/geolink].

Amaya was more than likely going to appeal the $290 million, but now the amount was increased threefold to $870 million. Furthermore, Judge Wingate warned that failure to immediately begin making payments would result in the institution of a 12% annual interest rate. Lawmakers from Kentucky are backing what some are calling a harsh punishment by saying that Pokerstars blatantly breached the state’s laws, which are very well-defined. As expected, Amaya responded by calling the punishment absurd.

In a statement, Amaya’s executive vice president of corporate development said,

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 $18 million from Kentucky customers during the five years at issue, a damages award in excess of $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.

In my opinion, I have to side with Amaya and say that this $870 million fine is a bit much. My belief in this is only strengthened when you consider the fact that the state of Kentucky has no intentions of paying out any of that money to former players. My opinion might be a little bit different if the state was planning on reimbursing players, many of whom lost thousands, but they are doing nothing more than stuffing their own pockets.

As we move into the new year, I highly doubt that this is the last we will hear of this story. After all, this settlement has been debated for the better part of the last 4 years so I do not think it will be wrapped up anytime soon. This is especially true thanks to Toronto-based Amaya saying that they will appeal this ruling and any subsequent judgement until the fine is set at a reasonable amount of money. Players who lost their money [geolink href=””]have begun a movement[/geolink] to have themselves included as recipients of at least some of the settlement funds, but I do not think that will go over so smoothly either. With all of this being said, it will be interesting to see what takes place with this case over the coming weeks and months.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett