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The Stars Group wins appeal against $870M Kentucky lawsuit

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Dec. 21 ruled in favor of Canadian casino and gaming company The Stars Group Inc. and reversed the $870 million judgment issued against its poker site PokerStars by a trial court judge in December 2015.

In 2015, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled against PokerStars for violating a gambling loss recovery law by offering online poker in Kentucky. While no one who actually lost money took action against the company, State Cabinet Secretary John Tilley sued on their behalf.

In a 34-page court verdict, the court said Kentucky's Commonwealth could not be recognized as "an individual," therefore making the legal demands invalid. Also, despite suing on the behalf of "thousands of Kentucky residents," the state failed to identify any individual that had lost money.

The lawsuit was originally brought by Tilley in 2010 before The Stars Group acquired PokerStars in 2014.

Marlon Goldstein, executive vice president & chief legal officer of The Stars Group, welcomed the verdict, saying: "We applaud the decision of the highly-respected three-judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals."

Mike Wynn, a spokesman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said it would appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court, the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal reported.

"We are disappointed by today's Court of Appeals ruling in the PokerStars case, which will take away from the Commonwealth a billion dollar judgment, including interest," Wynn said. "The decision doesn't appear to even address the substantive issues in the case, but rests entirely on procedural questions."

The Stars Group said it expected the Commonwealth to appeal the ruling, and added that it would continue to "vigorously dispute any and all liability."