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Flutter Entertainment is expected to appeal the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate an award of damages made against The Stars Group (TSG) in 2015 by a Kentucky trial court judge.
A Kentucky Supreme Court ruling on 17 December ordered that the US$870m (£649m/€708m) judgment against TSG has been reinstated with compounding interest of 12% per annum.
Flutter, which merged with TSG on 5 May 2020, has argued that the litigation runs contrary to modern US legal precedent.
The case relates to legacy operator PokerStars, which was acquired by The Stars Group (then Amaya) in 2014. In 2010 the case was filed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in a bid to recoup alleged losses by Kentucky residents who had played real-money poker on the platform between 2006 and 2011, while the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was in force.
However, the 2015 ruling was vacated in its entirety by the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 2018, with the Court stating that: “Allowing a complaint, like the one put forth by the Commonwealth, to move forward would lead to an absurd, unjust result.”
In a statement following the ruling, Flutter said that gross gaming revenues generated by TSG in Kentucky during the period in question amounted to approximately US$18m.
Thus, following legal advice, the operator has said it is confident that ultimately the sum it will be liable to pay will be “a limited proportion” of the reinstated judgement.
Nonetheless, Flutter said it was “wholly surprised” by the ruling and strongly disputed the basis of the judgement. It said the litigation had relied on “a centuries-old statute” and that the business had “a number of legal processes available” to it.
Flutter also stated that no liability had previously been recognised by either TSG or Flutter in relation to the matter.