Jeff Ifrah’s legal skills and record of success have earned him international recognition as a white-collar criminal defense lawyer and litigator. He is an advocate keenly focused on delivering results for his clients – on understanding the problems they face and developing innovative strategies to resolve them.
Considered one of the world’s foremost attorneys in Online Gaming Law, Jeff is nationally ranked by Chambers USA, which states that “Jeff Ifrah of Ifrah Law is noted for his sophisticated gaming and licensing practice that emphasizes novel areas of the sector (like) cryptocurrency issues, internet sports betting and social media integration, among other matters.” Ifrah Law has been at the center of most of the important prosecutions and lawsuits in the iGaming industry.
Jeff also leverages his decades of experience in betting and wagering law to advise startups in the eSports space, including both real money and skill-based p2p competition sites, on compliance with both state and federal law. His clients in the sports betting arena include Unikrn, Bet365, Playtech, Worldpay and the Stars Group. Jeff and his team have also gained a strong reputation in other related internet-based industries such as payment processing and money transmission.
Of special importance to the gaming community is Jeff’s role in founding iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA), a non-profit association seeking to grow jobs and expand online interactive entertainment business in the U.S. through advocacy and education. Members include Golden Nugget, 888, GVC, and Scientific Games, among others. On behalf of iDEA, Ifrah Law submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the seminal sports betting case Murphy v. NCAA, which was decided in favor of iDEA’s argument urging the rights of states to direct their own economies.
Jeff cut his teeth as a trial lawyer and officer in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps and as trial counsel to the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth. He then gained invaluable experience as a special assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey.
He went on to become of counsel to the global law firm Paul Hastings and then a shareholder in the litigation department of another global firm, Greenberg Traurig. Often litigating cases against the federal government, he achieved a string of victories in cases involving criminal and civil antitrust laws, securities laws and the Civil False Claims Act. He defended some of the most well-known businesses in the country in industries such as pharmaceuticals, health care and technology.
Jeff is widely recognized for his legal excellence. In addition to his national ranking as a leading lawyer in Gaming & Licensing Law, Chambers USA has recognized Jeff for nine years in a row as one of America’s leading lawyers for litigation in the areas of White Collar Crime and Government Investigations. Jeff is also active in the publishing arena: he currently serves on the editorial and advisory board of Online Gambling Lawyer. His commentary has been featured in national media like The Baltimore Sun, and he is a frequent speaker at industry events around the world like the Esports Bar Association Convention. A leading national authority in federal sentencing laws, Jeff is co-author of Federal Sentencing for Business Crimes, the only comprehensive treatise on federal sentencing in the context of business and white-collar crimes.
Awards + Recognition
- Chambers USA – White Collar Crime and Government Investigations (Washington, DC), 2011 – 2019
- Chambers USA – Gaming & Licensing (Nationwide), 2015 – 2019
- Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star, – White Collar Crime (Washington, DC), 2015-2019
- Named to the National Law Journal’s Litigation Trailblazer List for 2015
- Named to Gaming Intelligence Magazine’s Hot 50 List for 2012
- Listed, Nightingale’s Healthcare News – Outstanding Fraud and Compliance Lawyer, May 2006
- Listed, “Expert News Source” in Corporate Governance and Securities, and Health Care/Pharmaceutical, LexisNexis
- Meritorious Service Award, U.S. Army
- Holds DOD Top Secret Clearance
Professional + Community
- Founding Member, iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA)
- Member, UNLV Gaming Law Journal Advisory Board
- Member, Online Gambling Lawyer Editorial Board
- Member, ABA Criminal Justice Section
- Member, International Masters of Gaming Law
Line Movers Sportsbook Management: Tribal Sports Betting Conference- Tulsa, OKRead more
Master Class Series at NIGA Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention - San Diego, CARead more
WEBINAR: Hosted by the North American Gaming Regulators Association (NAGRA)Read more
NCSL Capitol Forum- Washington D.C.Read more
Webinar- Hosted by GeoComply and Eilers & KrejcikRead more
CLE Program - Rutgers Law School, Camden, NJRead more
The International Comparative Legal Guide (ICLG) to Gambling 2019 - 5th EditionRead more
(ICLG) The International Comparative Legal Guide to Gambling 2019 - 5th EditionRead more
(ICLG) The International Comparative Legal Guide to Gambling 2019 - 5th EditionRead more
State Government Affairs Council (SGAC)'s Leaders Policy Conference - Scottsdale, AZRead more
Global Gaming Expo - Las Vegas, NVRead more
International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) Conference - Prague, Czech RepublicRead more
Webinar - Ifrah Law and Wiggin LLPRead more
Inaugural ESPORTS BAR ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE - Los Angeles, CARead more
"Murphy v. NCAA: New Jersey Wins Big After Betting on Unconstitutionality of Federal Sports-Betting Ban"
The George Washington Law ReviewRead more
2018 NIGA Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention - Las Vegas, NVRead more
LinkedIn ArticleRead more
Practical Law, Global Guides, Thomson ReutersRead more
Practical Law, Global Guides, Thomson ReutersRead more
Gambling Insider; US Gaming FocusRead more
ICE Totally Gaming, London 2017Read more
Practical Law, Global Guides, Thomson ReutersRead more
Sports Law & Entrepreneurship Conference, GW Center for Law, Economics, and FinanceRead more
American Bar AssociationRead more
"Emerging eSports Can Learn from Lessons (and Mistakes) of Gaming and iGaming Industries for Successful Gaming Expansion"
eSports Conference , Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles, CARead more
eSports Conference, Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles, CARead more
"Keynote: The Rise and Risks of eSports Betting"
International Masters of Gaming Law 2016 Spring Conference, San Francisco, CA
"iGaming Expansion Panel"
iGaming North America 2016 Conference, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino - Las Vegas, NV
iGaming Business North AmericaRead more
A. Jeff Ifrah, Panelist, "Current and Pending Legislation for Fantasy Sports", Daily Fantasy Sports Expo, Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami, FL
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "Committee on Casinos: Self-Regulation v. Regulatory Oversight", National Council of Legislators from Gaming States, 2015 Summer Conference, Atlantic City, NJ
A. Jeff Ifrah, Moderator, "Sportsbetting: Understanding The Evolving Stance of Sports Leagues on Legalization of Sportsbetting", Global iGaming Summit & Expo 2015, Hyatt Regency, San Francisco, CA
A. Jeff Ifrah, Moderator, "Mock Trial: United States v. Ginger McKenna", iGNA 2015, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
A. Jeff Ifrah, Moderator, "Bad Actors: The Impact and Enforcement of Illegal iGaming Sites", G2E 2014, Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada
"The Wild World of Witnesses: When Good Witnesses Go Bad", WMACCA Litigation Forum, McLean, VA
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "Lessons Learned: Takeaways from the Launch of iGaming in US Jurisdictions", 19th Annual East Coast Gaming Congress & iGaming Institute, Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ
A. Jeff Ifrah, Moderator, "As Close As You Ever Want to Get to a Federally Prosecuted Sports Betting Trial", iGNA 2014, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
"The Historic US Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement", World Online Gambling Law Report
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "J.P. Morgan Global High Yield & Leveraged Finance Conference", The Loews Hotel in Miami, FL
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "Defending the White Collar Case", Pennsylvania Bar Institute, The CLE Conference Center in Philadelphia, PA
"I Tell Them, I Tell Them Not: Deciding When and How to Disclose False Claims Act Lawsuits to Shareholders", Association of Corporate Counsel Docket
"The Importance of Liquidity for the US States Offering i-Poker", World Online Gambling Report
A. Jeff Ifrah, Moderator, "Liquidity as the Main Driver for Interstate Gaming: View from the Poker Industry", WrB USA, The Sheraton University City Hotel in Philadelphia, PA
A. Jeff Ifrah, Moderator, "The Great Regulation Debate", EGR US Power Summit, The Montage in Laguna Beach, CA
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "CFTC Liability for Affiliate Marketers", Affiliate East, Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker; Sarah Coffey, Moderator, "Home Truths: New Jersey’s Path to I-Gaming Regulation and its Future in the US Online Gaming Market", EGR North America Panel, The Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic City, NJ
A. Jeff Ifrah, Moderator, "What Are the Odds? The Future of U.S. Criminal Law Enforcement for Online Gaming and Online Piracy Against Offshore Companies and Individuals", ABA 27th Annual National Institute on White Collar Crime, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV
"Opinion: Why the NFL fears legalized sports betting", NorthJersey.com
A. Jeff Ifrah, Panelist, "Sentencing – Reentry – Juvenile Justice – Legal Education", ABA Fifth Annual Fall Institute, Washington Court Hotel, Washington, DC
A. Jeff Ifrah, Panelist, "Sentencing, Prison Preparation, and Collateral Consequences", NACDL White Collar Criminal Defense College, Gulfport, FL
"Five Years Later, Skilling’s Sentence is Still Up in the Air", Houston Chronicle
A. Jeff Ifrah, Panelist, "Internet Gaming Is Coming: Is Indian Country Ready", Sovereignty Symposium XXIV, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
A. Jeff Ifrah, Panelist, Spring Conference, "iGaming: Is It Coming and How Should It Be Regulated If It Does?", International Masters of Gaming Law
A. Jeff Ifrah, Moderator, "Corporate Plea Negotiations and Sentencing", National Seminar on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Orlando, Florida
"DC Law Sets Precedent", eGaming Review Magazine
"Five Important Steps to Take If the Government Comes Knocking", from Jeff Ifrah’s presentation at Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas on FTC Prosecution of Affiliates for Advertising Claims
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "FTC Prosecution of Affiliates for Advertising Claims", Affiliate Summit West, Las Vegas, Nevada
"Commentary: Banned from the Internet", The National Law Journal
A. Jeff Ifrah, Webinar Presenter, "When the Government Comes Knocking – UIGEA Enforcement", Bola Verde Media Group
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "An Insight into America’s iGaming Regulation", Budapest Affiliate Summit
A. Jeff Ifrah, Webinar Presenter, "When the Government Comes Knocking – Assessing the Risk of Prosecution", Bola Verde Media Group
"Circuits Split Over Securities Fraud Sentencing", The National Law Journal
A. Jeff Ifrah, Moderator, "Corporate Plea Negotiations and Sentencing", Nineteenth Annual National Seminar on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, St. Petersburg, Florida
"Sentencing Based on Loss", The National Law Journal
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "Quality of Care and the False Claims Act", AHCA-NCAL-MECF 58th Annual Convention & Exposition, Boston, Massachusetts
"Board Procedures Involving Fraud Counterclaims Against Contractors", Briefing Papers, No. 7-10
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "The Forfeiture Claims Act: Responding to the Government’s Latest Weapon", The Federal Circuit Bar Association’s 9th Annual Bench & Bar Conference, Cambridge, Maryland
A. Jeff Ifrah, Moderator, "Emergent Integrity and Enforcement Issues: What Should Contractors Worry about Today and Tomorrow?", The Federal Circuit Bar Association’s 9th Annual Bench & Bar Conference, Cambridge, Maryland
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "Sentencing Appeals In The Post-Booker Era", Sixteenth Annual National Seminar on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (sponsored by the Federal Bar Association and the United States Sentencing Commission), Salt Lake City, Utah
"Hard Hits: Upward departures from the Sentencing Guidelines seem immune from scrutiny when national security is invoked", Legal Times
"Circuit Split with False Claims Case", The National Law Journal
"The Viability of Expanding Quality of Care Cases Under the Federal False Claims Act", The Health Lawyer, Vol. 16, No. 5
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "Health Care Fraud Offenses", Thirteenth Annual National Seminar on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (sponsored by the Federal Bar Association and the United States Sentencing Commission), Miami Beach, Florida
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "Understanding the Increased Role of PBMs in the Drug Benefit", The Pharma Industry Forum on Medical Modernization (sponsored by American Conference Institute), Washington, D.C.
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "Quality of Care and the False Claims Act – Where Has the Government Been So Far?", 5th Annual Conference on Emerging Issues in Healthcare (sponsored by American Bar Association), La Jolla, California
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "Proposed Anti-Money Laundering Regulations for Hedge Funds", Old Greenwich, Connecticut
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "Applying the Patriot Act to Real Estate Transactions and Investments – What You Need to Know to Be Informed", Investment Program Association’s Fall Issues Conference, Washington, D.C.
A. Jeff Ifrah, Speaker, "Applying the Patriot Act to Real Estate Transactions and Investments", Commercial Real Estate Seminar, Atlanta, Georgia
Manging the Entire RFP Process for Tribal Gaming Company
Seneca Gaming Corporation is the largest casino in New York State in terms of revenue; it is
owned by the Seneca tribe. The company runs three casinos in Western New York.
In 2013, New York passed a law allowing retail sports betting within casinos, but the passage
of specific state regulations governing the activity was delayed; regulations are now expected
to be issued sometime in 2019. The Seneca tribe retained Ifrah Law to help find them a partner
to run this expanded operation of retail and mobile sports betting operations. We are currently
running the entire RFP process for the casino, offering the opportunity to bid for potential
partners to service this $1 billion market. Ifrah Law is advising on what the corporation should
seek in a partnership and what potential partners might ideally offer; we have reviewed over 20
applications, and will help the client cull the list down to a select group of finalists to service a
$1 billion market for sports betting in New York State.
Advising eSports Company on ICO, Cryptocurrencies, Compliance, and Regulation
Unikrn, an international leader in eSports products and content, asked us to provide legal
advice on various new products, including its initial coin offering: we provided strategic advice
on the products and games on which the cryptocurrencies could be used, while remaining
compliant with U.S. gaming and financial services regulation on the federal and state level. We
also worked closely with Unikrn during all phases of development of their product, including
revisions to the product and games, updates to the ICO whitepaper, and various regulatory and
compliance strategies. We continue to advise Unikrn on various new gaming offerings and are
advising on licensing matters in newly opened sports betting markets.
Sports Betting Data Company Licensing and Preserving Commercial Contracts
Genius Sports contacted Ifrah Law to assist with its licensing process in New Jersey and
Mississippi in relation to its sports betting business. The company provides sports betting data
to sports books all over the world and is seeking licensure in New Jersey and Mississippi.
Ifrah Law assisted with the licensing process, including reviewing applications and disclosures,
advising on proper disclosures for corporate officers and the various business entities, and
working directly with regulators on the licensing process. We were successful in securing
approval for operations in New Jersey while the investigation was underway.
The firm also assisted with petitioning the Mississippi Gaming Commission for approval to begin
offering certain sports betting products prior to finalization of the license application, thus
preserving the company’s commercial contracts.
Preparing License Application to Become Registered Casino Service Industry Enterprise
Ifrah Law prepared the license application for Ezugi to become a registered Casino Service
Industry Enterprise in New Jersey. We have worked extensively on representing the client
in negotiations with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to address Division
of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) concerns, obtain approval of the application, and to receive
transactional waivers for continued operations. The firm also represents Ezugi on its corporate
transactions and revenue share agreements with multiple casinos. Ezugi was the first operator
after regulation to offer a “virtual” live dealer where remote players watch and play poker
online while they view a real casino table and dealer. This innovative and cutting-edge work
has resulted in our client partnering with the Golden Nugget Casino and its counsel, Brownstein
Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP.
Ifrah Law Achieves Swift Removal of Payment Processing Client from OFAC List in Highly Unusual Government Action
In September 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced it had designated Ifrah Law’s client, a legitimate international business, as a transnational criminal organization. Our client had conducted its business for decades without incident, providing payment processing solutions for direct mail, eCommerce, gaming, charitable, and other customers.
The OFAC designation of a legitimate business was the first of its kind, having been previously limited to terrorist and organized crime entities, such as the Yakuza, MS-13, and Saddam Hussein. The designation indicated that OFAC was expanding its authority under its legal mandate. Given the novelty of this designation, the company contacted Ifrah Law based on our background and extensive experience representing payment processors: understanding their business was critical to our ability to combat the Government’s misperceptions about the payment processing business.
First, we began an internal investigation. As the OFAC designation was a surprise to the company, and the Treasury Department had no obligation to explain the basis for the designation, we needed to determine why our client had been targeted.
We also needed to address the reverberating effects of the designation on our client. An OFAC designation results in the prohibition of U.S.-based businesses including banks from working with a designee. Our client lost the ability to pay employees, vendors, and general expenses and eventually was forced to close its operations.
Ifrah Law achieved some of the swiftest ever removals from OFAC’s SDN list, including all of the 12 individuals named. One year after the initial listing, OFAC finally signed an agreement to remove our client’s companies, officers and employees from the SDN List. We continue to represent this client in actions concerning the financial situation of the now defunct company, and to ameliorate the damage caused by the listing on both individual and corporate reputations. Our work on this case was featured in The American Lawyer.
Upholding the Fourth Amendment in the Digital Age
As Jae Shik Kim was departing the U.S. from Los Angeles International Airport, a Department of Homeland Security agent confiscated his personal laptop. Following the seizure, and a review of data it found on the laptop, the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that our client was involved in a conspiracy to evade U.S. trade restrictions on Iran. Our team acted quickly and strategically to clear Mr. Kim and uphold the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unwarranted searches and seizures.
We filed a motion to suppress any supposed evidence gleaned from the laptop on the grounds that the seizure was illegal. The DOJ argued that a laptop was similar to any other container that could be searched at the border without a warrant. The judge rejected prosecutors’ arguments. As a result of our successful motion, the government was forced to abandon its case and we secured a victory against the DOJ. In this matter, it was shown that the government was searching for evidence of a crime committed years earlier and there was no suspicion of current illegal activity.
With the judge’s ruling, a strong statement has been sent to the government. This type of intrusion concerning our personal electronic devices without the proper documentation will not be tolerated. Further, the Fourth Amendment has been upheld, and the government has been warned against attempting to use its power at U.S. borders to circumvent basic rights.
(United States of America vs. Jae Shik Kim, Karham Eng. Corp., Crim. Action No. 13-0100)
Domain Name Seizure Reversed, Favorable Settlement Gained
Ifrah Law’s client, a Russian corporation, was charged in the United States District Court
for the District of Columbia with violating the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
The company is comprised of a group of financial and investment companies that provide
online trading services. The government alleged that the defendants operated a foreign
currency exchange business over the Internet, which served U.S. customers but did not
register with the CFTC, as is required by law. The government was seeking $280,000 in
potential fines and the worldwide shutdown of the lucrative web site.
After the government obtained a default judgment against the defendant, they turned to
Ifrah Law. With our representation and expertise in financial matters, the case was settled
for a small fine and the web site remains operable outside of the United States.
(CFTC v. InstaForex, Case No. 1:11-cv-00188 (U.S. District Court, District of Columbia))
Protesting Procurement Irregularities to Keep a Client in Competition
A client contractor participated in a procurement competition over a multi-award contract with the Department of the Army that was valued at almost half a billion dollars. After submitting a proposal, our client (along with other bidders) was excluded from the competition because of a deficiency in a proposed labor rate. The other excluded parties protested to the Government Accountability Office, and the Army permitted five of the protesting parties to rejoin the bidding process.
With just a week left before the final proposal revisions were due, our client asked us for help. We filed a U.S. Court of Federal Claims protest asking to reverse the exclusion based on irregularities in the procurement process. We also asked for an injunction to prevent the bidding process from ending.
As a result of our filing and subsequent negotiations with the Department of Justice, our client was permitted to rejoin the bidding and to submit a revised bid.
(Platinum Business Corporation, et al. v. United States, 1:12-cv-00001, Court of Federal Claims, Bid Protest (2012))
Obtaining a Reversal of Conviction and Sentence Reduction for Securities Fraud
Ifrah Law represented a former Homestore.com executive, Stuart Wolff, who was indicted for securities fraud. During a six-year battle with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the trial and appellate teams worked together to secure a reversal of the client’s conviction and a new trial.
In the months leading up to the second trial, the defense team, which included Jeff Ifrah of Ifrah Law, leveraged irregularities with discovery to obtain dismissal of all charges related to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Homestore’s former accounting firm. As a result, the sentence on remand was reduced by 70 percent relative to the sentence imposed after the first trial.
Jeff Ifrah was the only attorney Mr. Wolff retained from the beginning of the case to its conclusion. Mr. Ifrah began managing the legal team after the first trial, continued through the appellate process, and also in the team’s preparation for trial on remand.
Jeff Ifrah was responsible for formulating and executing the strategy that resulted in the 70 percent reduction of Mr. Wolff’s sentence.
(U.S. v. Wolff, Case No. 2:05-cr-00398 (U.S. District Court, Central District of California))
Turning the Tables on Fraudulent Direct Marketing Tactics
When an Internet retailer of consumer products discovered fraud by the direct marketing agency it had retained to promote its products online, Ifrah PLLC helped the retailer turn the tables.
Although the direct marketing agency, or affiliate network, agreed to craft a marketing campaign that complied with all advertising and consumer protection laws, it failed to do so. The network drove millions of leads to the retailer, a substantial number of those turned out to be from webpages containing claims the retailer did not approve.
This resulted in a substantial loss of advertising dollars for our client, the possible loss of good will among its customers, and exposure to state and federal consumer protection claims.
After we advised the retailer to stop paying the affiliate network, it filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in federal court in California seeking $2.5 million in damages. We responded by filing a countersuit for the non-compliant webpages.
In our analysis of the lawsuit, we discovered a legal flaw in the agency’s case that would require the court to dismiss it. Rather than immediately attempt to litigate this issue, we contacted the agency’s lawyers and gave them several opportunities to withdraw the case voluntarily.
When the agency ignored our invitation, we filed a motion to dismiss its lawsuit based on the flawed filings. The judge not only granted our motion, but he also chastised the agency for ignoring our invitations to resolve this without involving the court.
Because our litigation of the motion unnecessarily required our client to incur legal fees, we then filed a request that the judge order the agency to pay our client’s fees. Just as vigorously as it had fought our first motion, the agency fought that request. The judge awarded our client legal fees not only for the motion to dismiss, but also for having to fight its fee request.
In the end, we resolved the dispute in an out-of-court settlement on terms favorable to our client.
Delivering a One-Two Punch to Simultaneous Gambling-Loss Recovery Cases
A plaintiff’s law firm brought two gambling-loss recovery cases against our client, Amaya, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The first case addressed alleged gambling losses sustained as a result of playing on the PokerStars website. Additionally, our client was implicated in a second case that named Rational FT, which the client acquired when the client purchased Full Tilt Poker (FTP).
Both cases were instituted by a third-party – the mothers of players who allegedly suffered these losses. And in both instances, the courts ruled in favor of our clients after Ifrah won numerous motions that caused the defendants to amend their ultimately unsuccessful complaints.
After nearly three years, the judge brought finality to these proceedings by granting Ifrah’s last-filed motions to dismiss (which had been pending since mid-2014) and ordering the dismissal of both cases with prejudice. The judge’s orders in both cases were nearly identical. The cases were affirmed on appeal.
(Sonnenberg v. Oldford Group, Ltd., Rational Entertainment Enterprises, Ltd., Case No. 3:13-cv-00344-DRH (U.S. District Court Southern District of Illinois))
(Fahrner v. Bitar et al, Case No. 3:13-cv-00227 (U.S. District Court Southern District of Illinois))
Leading a First-of-its-Kind Battle to Block the Seizure of Domain Names
When the state of Kentucky went to court to try to seize the domain names of 141 Internet gambling sites, it was a shot across the bow of Internet companies around the world. If the state’s lawsuit – the first of its kind anywhere – was successful in bringing about the forfeiture of the domain names, the consequences would be severe for both Internet commerce and civil liberties.
At an initial court hearing attended only by the state’s lawyers, without notice to the owners of the domain names, the judge concluded that the websites were violating Kentucky’s gambling laws. The judge ordered the domains to be seized and their ownership transferred to the state.
When it got word of what happened, the Interactive Gaming Council – the organization that represented the owners of 61 of the domain names at issue in the case – turned to Jeff Ifrah for help. As a host of other organizations – including trade associations and civil liberties groups – mobilized to join in fighting the judge’s order, Jeff became lead counsel, coordinating the legal challenge to the seizures.
Not surprisingly, the judge turned down their request that he reverse his own order. Convinced the order was unlawful, Jeff led the defense team in taking the case to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. There, Jeff persuaded the Court of Appeals to rule that the judge exceeded his jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals ordered that the seizures be blocked.
The state appealed that ruling to the Kentucky Supreme Court, where Jeff continued to fight the forfeiture. The appeal raised significant legal issues never before decided by the court, including whether a domain name can be considered property that is subject to seizure under Kentucky law and whether a domain name can be considered a gambling device under the law.
In the end, the Supreme Court sidestepped these important questions. Instead, it ruled that the case was not properly before it because of a legal technicality. But the end of the appeal was not the end of the case. Litigation continues with Kentucky state officials. While the final outcome of the case remains to be seen, its significance will be felt throughout the Internet gaming industry.
(Commonwealth of Kentucky ex rel. J. Michael Brown, Secretary, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet v. 141 Internet Domain Names – Civil Action No.: 08-CI-1409 (Commonwealth of Kentucky, Franklin Circuit Court, Division II))
(This post was originally published on 1/15/2019 and updated on 4/8/2019) On Jan. 14, 2019, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion reversing its 2011 position on the Wire Act and sports betting, contradicting not just itself but decisions by at least two District Courts and dicta by the U.S. Supreme… Read More
In their recent article published in the George Washington Law Review, firm founder Jeff Ifrah and associate David Yellin describe the three immediate effects of the groundbreaking Supreme Court decision in Murphy v. NCAA: “this ruling immediately legalizes sports betting in New Jersey, opens up a logjam that states, casinos, and foreign sportsbooks have been hoping… Read More
The SEC has strongly indicated that initial coin offerings (ICOs) will be treated as securities, and thus must comply with various registration and disclosure requirements before being used to raise capital. Companies do have, however, several options for possible exemptions from the regulatory requirements that apply to registered public offerings. This chart outlines potential exemptions… Read More
As predicted, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken additional steps to clamp down on the exploding ICO market: yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported the agency had issued “dozens of subpoenas and information requests to technology companies and advisors.” After repeated warnings from regulators like SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, the SEC is now sending… Read More
This month Ifrah Law submitted an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in Christie v. NCAA, a pivotal case with far reaching implications for the gaming industry and state coffers across the country. The case asks whether New Jersey can offer sports betting in regulated casinos and race tracks in New Jersey. A… Read More