Online poker players in the State of Washington have reason to look on the bright side after a bill to regulate Internet poker was prefiled last Friday.
Those players, many of whom currently access offshore sites according to the proposal, are committing a crime when doing so. Washington State has a 2006 statute on the books that makes playing online poker a felony.
Apparently, that law has never been enforced, and it never will be if House Bill 1114 as introduced by Rep. Sherry Appleton finds enough ‘aye’ votes from state legislators. HB 1114 was filed in advance of the legislature’s 2015 regular session.
The bill aims to protect those online poker players within Washington who play at unregulated sites. Currently, those sites provide no safeguards regarding money deposited and perhaps won, nor do they provide help for problem gamblers.
Regulation would address and remedy those concerns, allocating a percentage of profits toward addictive gambling, as well as overseeing the safety of player funds through the state gambling commission.
Appleton’s proposal calls attention to the fact that numerous legal cardrooms that allow live poker are scattered throughout the state. To legally permit live action yet criminalize the same activity on the Internet seems a bit askew.
Who can play and participate
Notably absent from HB 1114 is the term “bad actor,” which, as many know, remains a contentious issue over on the West Coast. Washington’s Indian tribes and cardrooms would be allowed to apply for licensing as online operators, with validity of such licenses set at only one year.
The age of 18 is proposed as the minimum for players, and those players must be within state borders to play. However, partnership agreements with other regulated states in order to boost liquidity are permissible.
Washington is home to roughly 7 million, ranking 13th in the nation. That’s a bit behind the 9 million who reside in the regulated state of New Jersey, but more than double that of Nevada and well ahead of tiny Delaware (less than 1 million).
The prospects of HB 1114 advancing remain unclear at present. But the bill’s introduction is a positive step for the pro-online poker crowd, and was prompted by the tireless efforts of Curtis Woodard of the Washington Internet Poker Initiative, onlinepokerreport.com reported.