Online Poker Legally As Bad As Arson, Kidnapping And Sexual Assault In WashingtonOctober 1, 2010 8:12 am
Washington’s strict anti-online gambling law was originally introduced four years ago in 2006 but had been challenged all the way to the Washington Supreme Court up until now.
However, the law was upheld recently by a vote of 9-0 in Washington’s high court and so the upgrade of online poker from being a gross misdemeanour to a Class C felony within Washington state is complete.
Unlike many states across the US, the actual player themselves will be deemed to have comitted an illegal act if discovered playing online poker. They will be also be put in the same criminal category as a child molester, arsonist or kidnapper and could could face up to a year behind bars if caught.
Many online poker sites consider poker to be outside of the UIGEA’s definition of gambling and so continue to operate within the US market. However, Washington’s ruling leaves no grey area in their assessment of the activity where it is now considered definitively illegal.
In the wake of the startling law, the world biggest poker site PokerStars has now decided to pull out of the state and ban all Washington players from from their site. When players tried to sign into their accounts recently they were greeted by a message on the Pokerstars lobby informing them of the news.
In addition, e-mails have now been sent out informing customers of the decision and explaining the following:
“In light of this decision, following extensive consultation with our legal advisors, we believe that the right course of action is to now block real money play by Washington residents on the PokerStars.com site.”
“In all of the jurisdictions where we operate, we are committed to making responsible decisions that are based on a full and considered understanding of the most up-to-date legal advice.”
In the meantime, Absolutepoker, Bodogpoker and Ultimatebet continue to operate in Washington but players visiting the sites will do so at their own risk.