Amaya handed $870m fine in Kentucky

24 December 2015

Gaming operator Amaya has been ordered by a Kentucky judge to pay $870 million (€794.1 million) in damages for subsidiary PokerStars’ allegedly illegal operations in the US state between 2006 and 2011.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate had originally fined the company $290 million last month, but tripled the amount yesterday (Wednesday) following a request from the state.

Amaya, which only bought PokerStars owner Rational Group last year, has been told that it will pay 12% interest per year until the debt is paid off.

The state, which began its action against PokerStars in 2010, alleged that PokerStars had illegally provided gambling services to 34,000 Kentucky players between October 2006 – when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was introduced – and April 2011.

Over the five-year period, PokerStars generated aggregate gross revenue in Kentucky of approximately $18 million, according to Amaya.

Under an 1833 statute, the state argued that it was allowed to seek damages on behalf of the poker players who lost money.

Wingate wrote that Amaya might “find the final damage award to be harsh medicine”. He added: “Such is the consequences for violating the laws of Kentucky.”

Amaya has indicated that it will appeal the decision, and also said in a statement last week that it would “vigorously dispute any liability” or seek recovery from the former owners of the Rational Group.

Related article: Amaya blasts ‘frivolous’ Kentucky dispute over PokerStars