Awaiting the Supreme Court
The definition of gambling could get a whole lot clearer in the State of
Washington this week as the Betcha.com case makes its way all the way through
the lower courts and is now, several years later, sitting in the Washington
Supreme Court awaiting judgment. The US state of Washington has some of the most
out-dated and draconian laws in the country – and these are actually currently
laws that the government is actively enforcing as a way to protect the state’s
land gambling interests. The online casinos pose a real threat to the land
gambling industry and thus Washington is keen on keeping tax revenue high by
blocking internet poker and gambling. The Betcha.com case though begs the
question: What exactly is gambling?
Betcha.com is a Web site that was launched shortly after the UIGEA banned
offshore online casinos from the US market. Nick Jenkins, a Seattle-based
lawyer, launched an innovative site that allegedly circumvented the restrictions
against betting and gambling in both Washington and the US on the whole. Jenkins
consulted extensively with specialists in the field to confirm that his site was
not actually a form of gambling – purely because he removed the “risk” factor to
the game by allowing bettors to renege on actually paying their bets.
The site didn’t last long before it was targeted for breaking gambling laws
related to the online casino ban in Washington State. Each side has now one a
court ruling and it’s up to the Washington Supreme Court to decide whether
Jenkins is going to face fines for his actions, or whether his business model
will receive vindication and validation.