Flutter ‘wholly surprised’ by reinstated $870m Kentucky poker ruling

Flutter Entertainment has said that it is “wholly surprised” by a reinstated $870m ruling in Kentucky, following which the group is taking legal advice and reviewing its position.

The litigation, which was reversed in late 2018, was initially filed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 2010, approximately four years prior to The Stars Group’s acquisition of the PokerStars business. 

This sought recovery of alleged losses by Kentucky residents who played real-money poker on PokerStars’ website during a period between 2006 and 2011. To bring the action, Kentucky relied on a centuries old statute seeking the recovery of alleged gaming losses incurred by residents.

In the original December 2015 decision, the judge imposed an approximately $290m award, which was trebled to $870m excluding interest and applicable costs.

Upon the overturn two years ago, the Court of Appeals stated “[a]llowing a complaint, like the one put forth by the Commonwealth, to move forward would lead to an absurd, unjust result.”

Subsequently, Flutter, which completed its merger with Stars Group earlier this year, has reported that the Kentucky Supreme Court has reinstated the $870m judgement with compounding interest of 12 per cent per annum. Gross gaming revenues that TSG generated in Kentucky during the relevant period was approximately $18m.

Flutter says that it is “wholly surprised by today’s ruling and strongly disputes the basis of this judgement which, it believes, runs contrary to the modern US legal precedent”.

The group also noted that “there are a number of legal processes available,” and having taken legal advice that it is confident that “any amount it ultimately becomes liable to pay will be a limited proportion of the reinstated judgement”.

The firm added: “Together with its legal advisors Flutter is currently reviewing its position. No liability was previously recognised by either TSG or Flutter in relation to this. Flutter’s balance sheet remains robust.”