Posted on: August 14, 2023, 11:04h.
Last updated on: August 14, 2023, 11:04h.
Two popular offshore casinos and sports betting platforms, operating without licenses in the United States, are now facing a class-action lawsuit in Kentucky targeting their acceptance of bets from US players.
A proposed class-action federal lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Kentucky last week. The plaintiff is Billi Jo Woods, a Kentucky resident living in Lawrenceburg, and the defendant is a group that controls and operates the online gambling websites Bovada and Bodog.
Bovada and Bodog are licensed through Curaçao, a Caribbean island country friendly to iGaming operators that target players in countries where such gambling isn’t legal. The proposed litigation names Morris Mohawk Gaming Group, Alywin Morris, Clavin Ayre, and Harp Media BV, the group that collectively owns and manages the iGaming platforms.
“Plaintiff Billi Jo Woods brings this action on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated against Defendants,” states the class-action complaint, which demands a jury trial in the federal court.
Woods alleges that Bovada and Bodog intentionally focused on players in Kentucky and other states, a direct violation of federal and state laws. Woods aims to recover her losses and provide other consumers the opportunity to recoup their expenses.
19th Century Law
While most states prohibit individuals from seeking legal action against operators to recover gambling losses, Kentucky has a unique state law from the 1800s that allows residents to pursue legal action if they believe a gaming operator unlawfully took their money.
Woods’ attorneys cited a relevant Kentucky Statute that permits a losing gambler to file a “first-party cause of action to recover any losses suffered.” The lawsuit also refers to federal law and seeks to have the case heard in Kentucky’s federal court.
By operating their online casinos, Defendants have violated Kentucky law, which governs Plaintiff’s and the Class’s claims, and Defendants have illegally profited from tens of thousands of consumers,” the lawsuit’s introduction states.
According to Woods’ attorneys, Bovada and its sister site targeted US consumers with false claims that the gambling websites were a “trusted source for gaming and betting.” The websites additionally promoted themselves as ideal for those “looking to blow off some steam with a little slot or table game session.”
Woods claims to have lost “thousands of dollars gambling” on the Bovada and Bodog websites. Her attorneys argue that the defendants presented Bovada and Bodog as legitimate online businesses to consumers in Kentucky, while being fully aware that they are prohibited from accepting players from the US.
Despite online gaming being legal in six states and sports betting being permitted in over 30 states, many players still choose to patronize unregulated offshore gaming websites due to potentially better lines and odds.
The defendants have 21 days from receiving the summons to respond to the complaint. As the websites are not based in the US, legal experts believe it may be challenging to penalize the operators since the Curaçao government has previously declined to extradite individuals to the US to face similar legal allegations.
Similar to PokerStars Lawsuit
Woods’ lawsuit bears resemblance to a previous case brought by the Kentucky government over a decade ago against PokerStars, which was recently resolved.
Kentucky lawmakers initially sought over $1.3 billion in damages from the offshore poker network that was seized by the US Department of Justice on April 15, 2011, a day known as online poker’s “Black Friday.” Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of PokerStars, settled the case with Kentucky in September 2021 for $300 million.