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PokerStars pulls out of Washington state 2010-Sep-30 at 13:25 PDT

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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Obviously, this sucks.  Fortunately, I play on Full Tilt.  I can’t help but wonder if they’ll follow suit.

From PokerStars No Longer Accepting Washington Cash Play On Site, by Earl Burton, 30-Sep-2010:

After a decision from the state’s Supreme Court regarding the legality of a law set in place four years ago, the top online site in the poker industry, PokerStars, has made the move to no longer accept cash players from the state of Washington.

In an e-mail message sent to residents of the state of Washington, PokerStars spells out the unfortunate news. “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 card rooms 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.”

The e-mail continued, “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.” PokerStars emphasized that the company always has legal issues in mind when offering their wares, stating, “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.”

Poker is not gambling.  It is a game of skill.  Tens of millions of Americans play poker regularly, and the haphazard legal environment around poker – particularly when it’s lumped together with other games like Blackjack and Roulette and Slot Machines – makes it difficult for the large online poker sites to operate.

How can you tell the difference between gambling and a game of skill?  To me it’s easy… am I playing against the house?  If I’m playing against the house, I’m gambling, because they don’t set up games that they lose money at.  If I’m playing against other players… it’s probably about skill.

I know most of you don’t care about this issue, but I do.  Ever since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was tacked on to a Port Security bill in 2006 by Senate Majority leader Bill Frist, who was attempting to mollify social conservatives in the Republican party, the national legal structures for poker have been problematic.  Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has been shepherding a bill through Congress to address internet gaming in general, and although that bill has 70 co-sponsors, it doesn’t look like it’ll get through Congress in this session.  Let’s hope that reason prevails soon.

I hope Snoqualmie and Tulalip Casinos expand their poker rooms soon… I think we’re going to need it.

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