Posts Tagged ‘washington state supreme court’

Poker Players Alliance challenges US laws

Recently, the Washington State branch of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) decided to challenge a law in this state which makes engaging in online gambling, both poker and casino, a felony. The case came up for hearing before the Washington Supreme Court after moving on from the trial court and the appeals court. Lee Rousso lead the arguments on behalf of the PPA.

At the hearing Rousso challenged the Washinston state law under the Commerce Act. This Act forbids any state to pass legislation that discriminates against a section of any industry. Rousso tried to argue that the Washington legislation discriminates against the online gambling industry. He claimed that a person playing poker or blackjack or any other game at a brick and mortar casino is considered engaging in a legal activity but the same person doing the exact same thing online is considered a felon.

Rousso pointed out that the only persons to benefit from making online gambling a felony were the tribal casinos regulated by the state. This was because a competing sector was being prevented from operating.

Attorney General Jerry Ackerman represented the State of Washington and he told the court that online gambling cannot be regulated, hence it is unsafe. The defense argued that it was not enough for the state to claim that online gambling cannot be regulated.

The judges questioned Ackerman extensively and they seemed not to be able to understand why to discriminate between land and online casinos. “Aren’t these the same games that are played in Indian casinos?” asked Justice Jim Johnson. Justice Gerry Alexander said the state allowed many forms of gambling, and prejudice against online casinos may be a “generational thing.” Ackerman tried the argument that the state supported the Indian casinos because federal legislation required them to do so. However, the judges quashed this argument by pointing out that the state received a hefty fee from the Indian casinos.

Online gambling scores again and we are still waiting to see what the situation will be in the US concerning regulation of the activity.