Flutter considers ‘matter closed’ as $300m paid to Kentucky

Flutter Entertainment has paid $300 million to the Commonwealth of Kentucky to fully settle its legal dispute with the state concerning The Stars Group

The Dublin-based gambling group has paid $200 million to the state, on top of a $100 million previously handed over to the state relating to a superseded bond in the case.

A statement from Flutter read: “The Group strongly believes that this agreement is in the best interests of Flutter shareholders. The Group now considers the matter closed.”

The Stars Group’s operations in Kentucky were the primary cause of the legal contest between the state and Flutter, as authorities were keen to recover alleged losses incurred by residents of the Commonwealth when playing real-money poker on the PokerStars platform between 2006 and 2011.

Cited in support of the state’s claim was the 18th century ‘Loss Recovery Act’, which allowed Kentucky courts to seize illegal gambling revenue. 

Under the terms of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), PokerStars’ were prohibited from operating in the US after 2006, although the firm has maintained that online poker was a ‘grey area’ under the provisions of the legislation.

Following Flutter’s acquisition of The Stars Group last year, the firm has launched a number of appeals against the fines incurred against its new subsidiary prior to the takeover.

The first ruling against The Stars Group occurred in December 2015, when a Kentucky judge set an award of $290 million which was later tripled to $870 million excluding interest and applicable costs, with the operator’s gross gaming revenues from 2006-2011 standing at around $18 million.

Although this fine was dismissed, it was later reinstated after a Kentucky court voted four-to-three in favour – with an annual compounding interest rate of 12% taking the damages claim to $1.3 billion.

Flutter’s appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court was rejected in March of this year, prompting the company to reach out to the US Supreme Court earlier this month.

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