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  1. #1
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    The Buzz is offline GPWA Gossip Hound
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    Default Washington state lawmaker looking to walk back draconian anti-online gambling law

    In 2006, the state of Washington enacted the most severe punishments for online gambling the U.S. has ever seen. Players (not operators, mind you, but regular, run-of-the-mill online gamblers) could be charged with a Class C felony and punished with five years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

    Fast forward seven years later, and not one individual has been charged under the law. The Buzz doesn't think that's very good public policy, and neither does Washington State Rep. Paul Harris, who wants to walk back the law and make transgressions a "class 3 civil penalty" and fine folks $50.

    While it still seems pretty crazy to fine people for gambling, this is a bit more palatable than 5 years in prison and a $10K fine.

    http://pokerfuse.com/news/law-and-re...e-poker-12-02/

  2. #2
    Anthony's Avatar
    Anthony is offline GPWA/APCW Program Director
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    No one knows more about this law and how it affected players and him personally as an affiliate, than JTodd.

    Today, JTodd will be traveling to Olympia to talk to lawmakers about this bill. I am sure he will make a great case for common sense and hopefully help sway them to change this over reaching law.
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    The Buzz (19 February 2013)

  4. #3
    Anthony's Avatar
    Anthony is offline GPWA/APCW Program Director
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    JTodd was not able to get to Olympia to testify. Unfortunately he has some financial issues that kept him from making the trip.

    JTodd was kind enough to forward me his planned remarks:

    Testimony of J. Todd in Support of H.B. 1824

    February 19, 2013

    Thank you for the opportunity to address the panel. I would like to begin by telling you that I understand. Having worked in online gambling for nearly twelve years, I understand both sides of this argument better than most poker players living in Washington. I understand on a professional level, having watched my business be completely destroyed by the legal activity passed here in 2006. I understand on a personal level, having watched my family lose everything as a direct result of these actions. I understand as a player, having witnessed the lack of proper regulation, the true need for consumer protections and safeguards. What I do not understand, however, is how a group of otherwise educated men and women charged with the task and responsibility of representing the will of the people could get something so wrong.


    Washington has always been progressive and liberal thinking. Its citizens are some of the most literate and well educated in the country. Yet, the issue of online poker has been dealt with in ignorance. Poker itself is enjoyed in regulated venues all across this state every day, so clearly the game itself is not an issue. Online gambling is regulated successfully in the United Kingdom and across Europe, so clearly regulation is practical. Online gambling legislation is currently being considered and enacted by several states right here in America and in provinces all across Canada, including our neighbors in British Columbia. In fact, legal online gambling goes on right here in Washington State every day in the form of online horse racing with, I might add, precious few safeguards for problem gamblers or adequate age verification processes the last time I checked.


    I now live in a state where I am allowed to gamble online if I want to bet on a pony; a state where I can walk into almost any casino and play poker any day of the week; a state where I am now free to use recreational marijuana if I choose; and a state which can throw me in prison and takeaway several years of my life for playing a $1 game of internet poker in the privacy of my own home. I hope that as I read this, it sounds as ridiculous to you as it does to me. I appreciate the burden placed on our lawmakers. And I understand that the matter of online poker probably seems far less significant than some other pieces of legislation. But what are the people of this state supposed to take from a law which seems to fly in the face of what is otherwise legally allowed and contradicts common sense?


    What makes online poker so different than online horse racing? Why is it held to a higher standard here than it is in other parts of the civilized world? Is it an issue of player protection? Having reported the news of this business for over a decade, Iíve seen the intricate politics of big business and special interests that actually make up policy. Iíve met the online operators,toured the backrooms and offices of some of these sites, and I agree: There is a need to protect the players. Yet, there are no state officials stopping citizens from spending their entire paychecks buying up lottery tickets. There is no one positioned at ATM machines in casinos making sure the customers are playing within their means. Therefore, any claim of player protection to justify this law would seem patronizing. It is my belief that what weíre dealing with here is not an issue of the government protecting its citizens from those who would victimize them; so much as it is an issue of the state protecting its own financial interests.


    I did not come here to tell you all that online poker is without its issues. Any unregulated, multi-billion dollar a year industry will attract a certain percent of charlatans and crooks. But, as with most prohibitive measures placed on human behavior, especially in regard to an activity many people feel associated with personal freedoms, this law does little to deter the activity. Criminalizing online poker helped create a black market where unscrupulous operators thrive today, and forced citizens into their waiting arms.The very citizens you hoped to protect.


    Instead of wasting the states money with a law that has little practical chance of enforcement, which is completely out of balance with the will of the people, and which is totally disproportionate in penalty, I encourage the state to reconsider its position on this matter. I believe the future holds a tremendous opportunity to make an educated decision in regard to regulation. An opening where legislators can demonstrate forward thinking, establish progressive, informed policy,create a safe environment for the people of this state, and realizing additional revenues while acknowledging that prohibition does not work. And it all starts with correcting this impractical law, applied to an activity which goes on legally in hundreds of card rooms and casinos across this state on a daily basis.
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