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The Kentucky Supreme Court is deciding whether the state has the power to seize Internet domain names involved in online gambling after hearing arguments Thursday from lawyers on both sides of the issue.

At issue is whether the more than 100 domain names the state has tried to seize are tantamount to gambling devices such as slot machines, and whether the state has authority for the seizures.

An appellate court has previously ruled that the state can't seize the domain names.

"They have been using these to violate the law in Kentucky," Eric Lycan, a private attorney representing the Kentucky Justice Cabinet, said. "They are subject to forfeiture."

The state previously sued 140 Web sites after determining that they allowed Kentuckians to gamble illegally and asked a judge to either force the sites to block Kentucky users or allow the state to take possession of the domain names — essentially shutting them down. Most of the sites are offshore and serve gamblers in and outside of the state.

Kentucky already allows gambling on horse racing and bingo and has a state lottery.


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