PokerStars blocking real money play in Washington State

by , Sep 30, 2010 | 8:11 am

From Rich Muny of the PPA, a statement from PokerStars:

PokerStars statement on the blocking of players from Washington State

PokerStars today announced that it would cease providing real-money poker to residents of Washington State. To date, PokerStars has operated in Washington on the basis of legal opinions where the central advice was that the state could not constitutionally regulate Internet poker, or at least could not discriminate in favor of local cardrooms and against online sites. Last week, however, the Washington Supreme Court for the first time rejected that position and upheld the state’s Internet gaming prohibition.

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. This policy will remain in effect until the law changes or subsequent legal challenges succeed. Our decision to block real money play in Washington does not affect the balance of funds in customer accounts, which remain completely safe. Our payment services team continues to be available to Washington State residents to assist with cashout requests.

We regret this decision, which will no doubt disappoint our customers in Washington State. However, 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.

PokerStars remains supportive of passing sensible Internet poker regulation in the United States that will provide much-needed tax revenues and formalize consumer protections. PokerStars operates under those conditions, complying with rigorous licensing regimes, for its worldwide operations in the Isle of Man (UK), and for local operations in Italy, France and Estonia.

PokerStars has also created a FAQ for Washington state residents, at http://www.pokerstars.com/poker/news/washington/faq


19 Comments to “PokerStars blocking real money play in Washington State”


  1. DanM
    says:

    Stars obviously has been listening to TPB and TRH (the rabbit hunt).

    But too little too late?


  2. DanM
    says:

    Could this actually be good for the “opt-out” model, in showing that it can actually “work” for states that don’t want online gambling/poker?


  3. Don Sturdy
    says:

    It looks like the plaintiff in the Washington case, attorney and self-proclaimed “want to be poker player” Lee Rousso, really kicked the sleeping dog here. I agree with Dan, however, that this may be good in the long run, and at least provides some additional incentive to take this issue up in federal court.

    Here’s a link to our recent post on the court decision: http://donsturdy.com/node/107


  4. Mark Gahagan
    says:

    There wasn’t much of a constitutional issue, which was the argument for overturning the law. At the end of the day while this was a loss for poker players in Washington state, it wasn’t exactly an unfair ruling.

    Also, while this is proof that “opt-outs” work….do we really want a situation where certain states are ok for online poker and certain states aren’t? Doesn’t that just create additional hassle if a patchwork of states agree or disagree about poker instead of it just being legal throughout the whole US?

    Oh..and there is the selfish matter of being in the same state as the Commerce…a state that would seriously consider the opt-out if it was in place, and wouldn’t have the ability to vote on an opt-in because the CA legislature is incompetent.


  5. DanM
    says:

    everything you say is why an opt-out is better than an opt-in.

    very few states will opt out. utah probably, maybe alabama. but that’s where they might just need kentucky-style blocks.

    i think it is very common for states to have opt-outs in these sorts of situations.


  6. DanM
    says:

    here’s a real question … will they still be able to access the dot-net site, and therefore qualify for all those NAPTs for free, the way they keep saying is the best way to get into all their real money tournaments?


  7. Mark Gahagan
    says:

    I agree opt-outs are better, I just worry about the “influence” card rooms or Indian tribes yield in some states pushing for opt-outs in states where it makes little sense to do so.

    I suppose it would depend, technically the NAPT qualifying for free would fall under sweepstakes law since “No purchase necessary to enter”? So unless the state explicitly bans online poker (both paid and free) as a whole, you should still be ok.


  8. JamesDaBear
    says:

    As of right now, they aren’t allowing residents of Washington to register for any tournament that awards a real money prize, freeroll or otherwise.

    This is just horrible for residents of the state of Washington that want to continue to enjoy living in this state and employing the skills we’ve acquired while playing the game we love.

    In an effort to make themselves look better for future endeavors, the biggest online poker company on this planet gave us up without much of a fight. Exactly what is going to be any different for their smaller competitors?


  9. TOCurmudgeon
    says:

    There’s been some talk that PokerStars’ action is somehow admitting previous wrongdoing, which is certainly not the case. Organizations often continue operations, often by way of injunction, while a matter is being decided in the courts. Also, to date I’ve not heard of the State of Washington issuing any kind of cease and desist order to any online poker sites. I suppose the question maybe, does the law in Washington State address the actions of anyone besides the players themselves?


  10. TOCurmudgeon
    says:

    There’s been some talk that PokerStars’ action is somehow admitting previous wrongdoing, which is certainly not the case. Organizations often continue operations, often by way of injunction, while a matter is being decided in the courts. Also, to date I’ve not heard of the State of Washington issuing any kind of cease and desist order to any online poker sites. I suppose the question may be, does the law in Washington State address the actions of anyone besides the players themselves?


  11. JamesDaBear
    says:

    According to the Gambling Commission, they aren’t actively going after the players. They’re going after the operators. They have neither prosecuted or threatened Washington State online poker players. I do not know whether this entails communications with PokerStars that would have brought about their recent action against Washington State players. I don’t consider this admitting any guilt on their part, just sacrificing their Washington State players (after the WCOOP of course) in an attempt to save their reputation for when the opportunity to get fully licensed comes around. The part that really bothers me is there’s no plan for what happens then. They aren’t fighting for us now; I hardly doubt they’ll fight for us when they get the rest of the country back.


  12. DanM
    says:

    Whom are you referring to, JDB? PokerStars? What do you mean “fight for us” when they get the rest of the country back?


  13. JamesDaBear
    says:

    I say us as poker players from Washington State, who have been unfairly persecuted and used by gov’t (officials, candidates and the congress itself), casinos and now online poker companies. They is PokerStars, specifically, to this point, but seeing as how they’re the biggest, there’s little mystery to the fate of our accounts on their smaller competitors.

    Yes… when “they” get the rest of the country back, Washington players could still be SOL. They were quick to cut us off (especially after getting us to dump our money into their WCOOP first), but there is absolutely no plan in place to give us back access, and their actions show they don’t care as long as they get what they want on the federal level. I fully expect FullTilt will do the same damn thing after their next FTOPS concludes.

    Now, states know they can win this fight, and it’s a race to get more ridiculous laws like this passed in other states before passing it means contradicting a federal law that’s making other states money.


  14. OONutz
    says:

    Well looks like its time to take this to the Supreme Court. It is legal to gamble in Washington State, so there fore it should be legal to gamble on line. The politicians of this state are just trying to protect their cut from Tribal gaming. Shame on them and shame on anyone that lets them get away with this.


  15. JW
    says:

    Getting this case to the US Supreme court is like hitting your one-outer on the river….

    As a past resident of WA, I find it ridiculous that the state has taken this so far but the Tulalip and Muckleshoot tribes and their PAC money goes a long way.

    Sign up for Tilt and move on..

    JW


  16. JW
    says:

    Jesus…just as I write this….Tilt jumps on the Wagon…..

    Perhaps UB or Victory poker?..what a joke…


  17. Dan Michalski
    says:

    >>Tilt jumps on the Wagon…..<<

    did they just pull out of washington too? got a link?


  18. JW
    says:

    I saw the news on a twitter post from BJ Nemeth this morning.

    It said that Tilt was also pulling out of WA state but would allow WA state playes to play when they were out of the state.

    Best confirmation would be through BJ….here are some other tweets

    @danielhewitt @espn_poker Full Tilt has followed Stars’ lead and banned WA state players. However, FT allows them to play when out of state.
    about 8 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to danielhewitt

    @Kevmath PokerStars bans Washington residents even when they are physically out of state, right? So Full Tilt is doing things differently.
    about 10 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to Kevmath


  19. JamesDaBear
    says:

    Yeah… I got this slap in the face about 10 minutes after I woke up this morning. Sent out a tweet to Kevmath about it since I saw he was up and tweeting too. Haven’t been on either since until just now.

    Oh yeah… only reason I was up that early was because I was headed to my grandmother’s funeral. Life is serving me a real shit sandwich right now.

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