A Circuit Court judge in Kentucky ordered the transfer of 141 domain names to the Commonwealth of Kentucky from the registrant owners that use the domain names to resolve to illegal Internet gambling sites. According to a press release issued by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Kentucky is the first state to pursue action against gambling websites that has resulted in the seizure of domain names. Kentucky is attempting to force illegal online casino operators to use technology to block access to the domains, and thus the gambling, from within Kentucky. Kentucky law mandates the forfeiture of any “gambling devices,” including domain names and the corresponding websites used for online gambling, since unlicensed gambling is illegal within the Commonwealth. Governor Beshear believes that gambling deprives the Commonwealth of revenue and endangers its citizens.
This action by Kentucky clearly raises a number of questions related to the use of domain names for online gambling, or any other activity that a state may deem illegal. Not only does this affect online gaming operators within the United States, but it also affects other countries. Regardless, United States entities must now be aware of the laws in individual states, including the Commonwealth of Kentucky in order to ensure their online operation, especially as it relates to gambling, is permitted.
Failure to understand the laws and implement the necessary technological controls could lead to, as here, the forfeiture of the valuable domain name.