Internet cafes may become a thing of the past in Kentucky if a new bill is successful. On Thursday, State Senator Mike Wilson pre-filed BR229, an act that will specifically target Internet cafes and any businesses that facilitate online gambling. WKBO first reported the story and Wilson’s concern on the issue.
Wilson admits that at present, Internet cafes are a bit of a grey area in Kentucky law. His bill would clear up any ambiguity and make the activity illegal. According to Wilson, “What they’ve done is they’ve taken away the charitable gaming from people like our veterans who are the VFW and the American Legion, which I’m a member there also. As well as, the Knights of Columbus, it’s really hurt them big time.”
Bill Would Modify KRS 528.010
The purpose of BR 229 is to modify the Kentucky Revised Statues Chapter 528.010 (Gambling Definitions) to include devices used by Internet cafes that have cropped up in Kentucky and other states over the years.
The first change comes under section 4, the definition of a gambling device. The bill would modify this to include any mechanical or electronic device located in a business establishment that is used to provide simulated game play for direct or indirect compensation. Some cafes had contended that indirect compensation, such as free Internet access or sweepstakes entries, allowed them to offer gambling games. This modification would make that illegal.
The bill would also define a simulated gambling program. According to the bill, a simulated gambling program is one in which “any method intended to be used by a person playing, participating, or interacting with an electronic device that may, through the application of an element of chance, either deliver money or property or an entitlement to receive money or property.”
Finally, the bill would permit devices selling combination or French Pools on historical races at licensed, regular racetracks. This was added under the section for devices not considered to be gambling devices.
Kentucky Has History of Leaning Toward Anti-iGaming
This bill should come as little surprise to anyone that has followed the iGaming industry in the last few years. Back in 2008, Kentucky tried to seize 141 domains from various online poker sites. Some of those sites included PokerStars, FullTilt and UltimateBet. No domains were seized, but some sites did settle with the state. The attempts at domain seizure resulted in most U.S.-facing sites at the time pulling out of Kentucky.
This bill could see some modifications to ensure that some parties don’t accidentally get banned. Online horse racing is one industry that may have language added to ensure an exemption. The state lottery is another. The lottery is expected to start selling online tickets by the end of 2015 and they would likely seek an exemption.