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Poker News: February 15th, 2011

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HEADLINE: Online poker in Washington: What’s the problem?

The story began in 2006, where legislators in Washington state fast-tracked a law banning online poker and gambling within the state. Breaking the new law would turn online poker players into Class C felons, a legal standing equivalent to possessing child pornography or torturing an animal, with a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Since then, little has changed in terms of progress towards legalization of online poker in Washington. One form of online gambling, horse race wagering, has been legalized through approved companies. A lawsuit was filed, stating that the ban on online poker violated the U.S. Constitution, but the Washington Supreme Court upheld the original law. There has been some spotlight over professional poker players forced to relocate because of the law. I knew a few people who paid for their college tuition through online poker, a dream gone for future skilled students.

While Washington is still in the dark ages, hope for legal online poker blooms across the country. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pushed to legalize and regulate online poker and gambling at a federal level. Representative Barney Frank has sponsored a measure in the House for a rollback of a law blocking transactions between U.S. financial institutions and online gambling companies. New Jersey, California, and Washington D.C. are pushing through legislature at the state level.

It is frustrating to think that the lawmakers in Washington equate online poker players to felons. Perhaps they have not figured out how to make money from the situation yet; after all, the state is in a budget crisis and spending money on mass media campaigns aimed at reminding adults to wash their hands. Some opponents suggest that online poker makes it too easy for people to gamble or play into their addiction, yet the state runs a lottery program and liquor stores. Casinos are also prevalent across the state, where money can equally be lost or made.

Luckily, the fight for legal online poker continues through organizations such as the Poker Players Alliance. I hope that in the near future, poker players in Washington can freely play online without fear of harsh penalty. Restricting all in the hopes of protecting a small few is a failed practice in which Washington legislators should come to realize with the outcry of the people. When the difference in legality is between playing in-person or online, you know something is wrong.

*Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor

Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on February 15th, 2011

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