Washington

From Felony to Legal? Washington State Online Poker a Possibility

Up until now, Washington state has been the least-hospitable place for US iPoker players. After all, Washington is currently the only state in America where it’s a felony to play online poker. But in what could be a remarkable turn of events, the Evergreen State may be considering the game. Bill HB 1114, introduced by State Rep. Sherry Appleton, would legalize Washington online poker. Another major point to this bill is that there’ll be no “bad actor” clause included. Let’s take a deeper look at what else HB 1114 has in store below.

Card rooms are legal, so why not iPoker?

While Washington has America’s strictest online poker laws, they also have 74 card rooms operating throughout the state. And as the following excerpt from HB 1114 states, Appleton sees this as a major reason why online poker should be considered:
“The legislature finds that the internet is an integral tool in the everyday lives of Washingtonians. Commerce, communication, and entertainment are just some of the areas in which this technological aid thrives. Poker has long been an authorized activity in Washington state, and with the internet as a technological aid, poker can be conducted in a virtual environment and played from the privacy of one’s own computer or mobile device.”

Residents still play online poker anyways

The fact that one could be put in jail for playing iPoker in Washington seems quite intimidating. But the reality is that nobody has been prosecuted for playing online poker in the state. Furthermore, many Washington residents continue to play iPoker, which the bill points out in this excerpt:

“Despite a lack of regulation due to prohibition, playing poker over the internet remains popular with Washington state players. To better protect the people of Washington from potential danger from, and to maintain oversight of the systems used to carry out internet poker, the legislature finds it to be in the interest of the people to establish a regulatory framework by which entities, as authorized by the Washington state gambling commission or a tribal regulator, may offer poker games to players within Washington state over the internet.”

Could Washington really enter the iGaming pool?

Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada are currently the only US states offering online gaming, and all three of their markets have underperformed. Given Washington’s current view on online poker, it could be hard convincing them that this is lucrative enough to legalize the game.

Of course, that’s not to say the prospect of legal Washington online poker can’t happen within the next 2-3 years. This is especially the case if bigger states like California, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania enter the mix by then. And seeing as how HB 1114 makes a provision for the governor to enter into interstate pacts, this could make legalizing iPoker far more appealing.