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PokerStars Blocks Players From Washington State

All Residents of Washington State No Longer Allowed to Player For Real Money

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Matt AffleckOnline poker players from the state of Washington logged onto PokerStars Thursday morning only to receive some unsettling news. Their business was no longer welcome.

PokerStars, following the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the state’s internet gaming prohibition, has decided to block all real money play from Washington residents.

This news will undoubtedly come as a shock to many of the high stakes cash game and tournament players from the state, who rely on the biggest online site in the world for much of their income.

Matt “MCMATTO” Affleck, who finished 15th in the World Series of Poker main event while representing the PokerStars brand on his clothing, is from Seattle. In addition to being heavily featured on the ESPN broadcast, Affleck has also had success on the site and even won a Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) event in April of 2009 for $550,500.

The 2009 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) main event winner was Yevgeniy “Jovial Gent” Timoshenko, who won $1,715,200. Timoshenko is originally from Mukilteo, Washington. Card Player Online Player of the Year candidate Adam “squee451” Sherman had an outside chance of claiming this year’s honors with a strong showing in the SCOOP, but he will have a hard time competing now since he currently resides in Seattle.

Other notable online players who have ties to the state of Washington include Vivek “psyduck” Rajkumar and Scott “BigRiskky” Clements, though both have residences in Las Vegas.

Here is a statement from PokerStars:

PokerStars today announced that it would cease providing real-money poker to residents of Washington State. To date, PokerStars has operated in Washington on the basis of legal opinions where the central advice was that the state could not constitutionally regulate Internet poker, or at least could not discriminate in favor of local cardrooms and against online sites. Last week, however, the Washington Supreme Court for the first time rejected that position and upheld the state’s Internet gaming prohibition.

In light of this decision, following extensive consultation with our legal advisors, we believe that the right course of action is to now block real money play by Washington residents on the PokerStars.com site. This policy will remain in effect until the law changes or subsequent legal challenges succeed. Our decision to block real money play in Washington does not affect the balance of funds in customer accounts, which remain completely safe. Our payment services team continues to be available to Washington State residents to assist with cashout requests.

We regret this decision, which will no doubt disappoint our customers in Washington State. However, in all of the jurisdictions where we operate, we are committed to making responsible decisions that are based on a full and considered understanding of the most up-to-date legal advice.

PokerStars remains supportive of passing sensible Internet poker regulation in the United States that will provide much-needed tax revenues and formalize consumer protections. PokerStars operates under those conditions, complying with rigorous licensing regimes, for its worldwide operations in the Isle of Man (UK), and for local operations in Italy, France and Estonia.

The restriction only applies to those players who are currently residing in the state. If a player were to move, then they would be free to play on the site after submitting proof of residency in another location. Additionally, players from other locations may not play on PokerStars while visiting the state.

PokerStars encourages all of their Washington players to make their feelings about the current state of the law known to their local legislators. The site also encourages players to become members of the Poker Players Alliance.

PokerStars has created a FAQ for residents of the state of Washington.