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Bill Would Make It No Longer A Felony To Play Online Poker In The State Of Washington

Plan Calls For A Penalty Reduction For Playing For 'Recreational Purposes'

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WA State Capitol. Wikipedia

Long before Black Friday kicked out the major offshore poker sites operating within the United States, the state of Washington enacted a prohibition on Internet gambling. Years later, a new bill would reduce the penalties for those who play for “recreational purposes.”

Recreation is defined by the legislation as “solely for the defendant’s own enjoyment and not as part of an enterprise that derives income from operating an Internet [gambling] web site.”

It would no longer be a class C felony to play online poker, but instead a “class 3 civil infraction” — which carries a maximum monetary penalty of $50.

The law on the books now allows those caught to potentially be sent to prison.

House Bill No. 1824 was read for the first time on Monday and referred to the Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight. It has eight sponsors.

In September 2010, PokerStars blocked players from Washington, and Full Tilt Poker followed suit soon thereafter. The ban applied to Washington-based IP addresses.

In the years since, efforts have popped up around the country to legalize gaming on the Internet. The state of Washington is obviously not one of them. It would seem reasonable to think that Washington, with 6.9 million people, would opt-out of a nationwide online poker network, should the federal government ever authorize the activity.

The state has limited commercial brick-and-mortar gambling, including card rooms.