In the ongoing battle of Internet poker and online casino gambling, the state of Washington passed a law banning online gambling making it illegal for any resident inside of the state to participate in online casino play.
If you are a resident in the state of Washington, and you are caught in the act of online wagering, you could face a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. The legislation, Senate Bill 6613, has turned online gambling into a Class C Felony. This severe type of felony is generally reserved for the prosecution of sex offenders who fail to register with the state.
Poker players across the state are angry, confused, and even slightly offended about the passage of the legislation. The state of Washington has 65 casinos and card rooms spread across the state, and even a state lottery, yet online gambling has been axed. There is much confusion and debate revolving around the fact that the state has both brick and mortar casinos and a state lottery.
Things seemed to move very quickly when the bill was put on the fast track and sent up to the governor, Democrat Christine Gregoire. The House received the bill on February 16th, and a mere few weeks later, it was passed by a vote of 93 to 5, and put into effect. In addition to banning online wagering, the bill also put a halt to the effort to allow the state lottery to be offered online.
Overturning the legislation probably won’t be easy. To overturn the bill and get the law changed would require a 60% majority vote by both houses of the state legislature, which would not be easy. Both residents and onlookers from other states feel that the ban of online gambling is a ban on freedom of choice and is an insult to poker players everywhere.
The issue of banning online gambling has been floating around Congress for a while now, but it seems that Congress decided that these types of decisions are better suited for government control on the state level, as opposed to the national level. In the past several weeks, a handful of well respected professional poker players have gone before Congress and stated their arguments in terms of supporting online gambling for any American who wishes to participate, whether it be for recreation or on a more serious level.
The thought of online poker players in the state of Washington receiving the same punishment as sex offenders is extremely offensive, not to mention absurd, and it’s causing a stir in the online poker community. There are plans in action to attempt to overturn the legislation, but, as of now, the bill has been passed.