Rally in Washington State Fixin’ to Get Underway

But will the Supreme Court fix online poker felony law?

by , May 27, 2010 | 9:02 am

Just to be clear for any poker players who may not know … Supreme Court decisions, both state and federal, are not made according to American Idol-style voting. Still that doesn’t mean the PPA can’t get together to bring issues to light, regardless of how the gavel falls … and that’s what they’re doing today in Washington State as Lee Rousso’s constitutional challenge to the Internet Gambling Ban gets heard.

Click here to watch public live public-affairs coverage from the Supreme Court in Olympia as the highest court in the far-far Northwest tackles the issue that has online poker players peaved like all get-out. Right now, the Court is asking questions about “welching” in online gambling … in a case apparently serving as the opening Act for Lee Rousso’s big show.

And click below for the results from a completely unscientific survey declaring four out of five poker players who chew gum prefer to not be imprisoned for playing on Full Tilt:

Four in Five WA Residents Believe Online Poker Should Not Be a Felony

Washington, DC (May 25, 2010) – Almost 80 percent of Washington voters oppose the Washington law that makes residents felons if they play poker online, according to a poll issued today. More than half said online poker should be legalized, licensed, and regulated in the state.

The Poker Players Alliance, the leading poker grassroots advocacy group with more than one million members nationwide and over 20,000 members in Washington, is holding a rally at the state Supreme Court on Thursday in support of a legal challenge to the law.

“The people of Washington have spoken – online poker should be legal and citizens should not become felons just for enjoying a game of poker on their home computers,” said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA. “It’s time this law is overturned. Instead of wasting time and scarce state resources to ban online poker, the state must focus on licensing and regulating the game to keep it legal, protect consumers, and collect needed tax revenue.”

Washington state law makes individuals felons for playing poker online, even in their own homes, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine – the same as child pornography and heroin possession. Lee Rousso, PPA’s Washington State Director, has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law, and Thursday morning he will argue the case before the State Supreme Court.

The poll, conducted last week and based on responses by 400 randomly selected Washington State registered voters, found:

An overwhelming majority (79%) disagree with the state law making online poker play a felony, with 54 percent of respondents saying they strongly disagree with the law.

A majority of voters (54%) believe playing online poker in Washington should be legal if the government would “regulate and tax online poker and use what could be millions of new tax dollars to fill holes in the state’s budget.”

“The genie is out of the bottle and Washington State voters realize it. Prohibitions on online poker are unpopular and will not work. The PPA stands ready to work with Washington’s state and federal lawmakers to establish sensible policies that let adults continue to enjoy this great American game over the Internet,” continued Pappas.

2 Comments to “Rally in Washington State Fixin’ to Get Underway ”

  1. Grange95

    I don’t know if the PPA rally materialized, but the argument was interesting to me as a poker player and lawyer. The court asked the anticipated questions, and it’s hard to predict results. But, the court was more open to the challenge than I had expected, with a couple of the justices asking pointed questions about whether the state couldn’t just regulate online gambling. On the other hand, one of the last questions was about terrorists and organuzed crime, not a real positive place to close the argument. I doubt the court will strike down the law, but I think Rousso has a shot.

    Your reference to “welching” arose in the prior case about Betcha.com (an online sports betting site). The argument in that case seemed one-sided to me, and I think the court is going to rule against the online betting company based on the questioning.

  2. Kevin Mathers

    For those who missed the hearing: