Washington's Draconian Laws
Criminal activity in Washington State ranges from murder to rape to online casino gambling… and in that order. Washington State is currently the only U.S. state with protectionist legislation that specifically targets online casinos and poker players but allows land-based gambling. Internet gambling in Washington State is a Class C felony offense – right up there with some serious crimes. Many in the online gambling industry are outraged with the Washington government recently because of a trial of three Louisiana players who were extradited to Washington State to face felony charges for gambling at Betcha.com. The question is quickly arising, has the United States taken the internet gambling issue one step too far by making U.S. players liable.
Even the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), while making internet gambling illegal for the online casinos does not place liability on the individual players. Washington State is currently in the beginning stages of a case that questions the constitutionality of Washington’s online casino and internet poker gambling laws. Lee Rousso is a Poker Player’s Alliance representative, and also a prominent Seattle lawyer. He is pursuing the case against the State but has run into several obstacles along the way and may have to switch tactics in the case.
Specifically, the state is avoiding any legitimate claims that the prosecution might have with what Rousso claims are “outrageous discovery requests.” Rousso’s main point is that making online casino gambling a Class C felony violates the federal government’s Wire Act. Like the UIGEA, the Wire Act does not make the individual online casinos players criminally liable for engaging in online gambling activities.
Rousso notes that so far in the proceedings, “the state has won the first round in court. The state's strategy, not surprisingly, is to avoid a hearing on the merits of the case. As part of the strategy the state has made what I consider outrageous discovery requests." But those request will not deter the lawyer and he has publicly affirmed that he will continue the case against the state, even if it means switching plaintiffs.