The Washington State online poker bill, HB 1114, which was unexpectedly presented last month at the opening of the state’s legislative session, is already dead, according to its sponsors.
Curtis Woodward, the crusading founder of the Washington Internet Poker Initiative, whose tireless efforts briefly made the legislation a reality, penned an article this week for OnlinePokerReport in which he announced that the bill had stalled and would not be getting a hearing this session.
He quoted Representative Sherry Appleton (D), who presented the bill to state legislature on January 9. “The bill did not get the support that I had originally hoped for and consequently we will not be moving forward with it this session,” she said.
Curtis, a recreational poker player, is determined to overturn online poker prohibition in Washington State.
Washington is currently the only place in the US where the actual act of playing online poker is illegal.
Lawmakers made it a Class C felony in 2006, with Section 9.46.240 of the state’s gambling law declaring that anyone who “knowingly transmits or receives gambling information by telephone, telegraph, radio, semaphore, the Internet, a telecommunications transmission system, or similar means” is violating the law.
The act of playing online poker could then, theoretically at least, land you a prison sentence of up to five years and a $10,000 fine, although no one has ever been prosecuted under this law.
“Getting our bill introduced has at least brought the stakeholders into the conversation,” writes Woodward. “While we can take some satisfaction in that, it is hard not to feel this was a missed opportunity to replace the ridiculousÂ felony prohibition of internet pokerÂ with sound regulations, and restore our freedom to play the game.”
“It is unfortunate that we had to get as far as a bill being introduced before the industry even looked our way. Had there been more support and involvement in the process during 2014, we could be having a hearing on a bill about now.”
However, Woodward believes that all is not lost.
Changing the laws in Washington will take a concerted lobbying effort with some financial clout behind it, and it seems that Amaya Gaming may be ready to provide that clout.
According to the Public Disclosure Commission website, says Woodward, Amaya has already engaged a lobbyist in Washington State.
“Make no mistake, we took a huge step in the last year, and HB1114’s demiseÂ should not be viewed as a failure,” he writes. “It was just the beginning, and players must continue to make themselves heard by engaging in the process.
“We have demonstrated to players everywhere thatÂ a dedicated player effort is keyÂ to state-level efforts. Perhaps we have inspired players in other states to make the same effort.”