Washington State began the new year on a solid note as far as online poker players are concerned, as an online poker bill was introduced late last week.
Rep. Sherry Appleton is the author of House Bill 1114, which was prefiled on January 9 for consideration during the Washington legislature’s regular 2015 session. The bill makes mention of the fact that Washington residents are known to access and play on unregulated online poker sites even though the state has a law on the books that makes doing so a crime.
That statute has never been enforced, as no Washington players have ever been cited for playing poker over the Internet. Should Appleton’s proposal find favor among state lawmakers, the activity would go from being a crime to becoming legalized.
HB 1114 recognizes a need to better protect its citizens by adopting ipoker regulations, as there are currently no safeguards in place for the many players who patronize offshore sites. Those absent safeguards include money that players may deposit and win, as well as any type of programs or initiatives to identify and prevent problem gamblers from continuing a downward spiral into addiction and getting necessary help.
Also cited in the new measure is the fact that live poker is permitted in Washington State. Cardrooms are numerous throughout the state, making it rather silly that residents can legally play poker at live venues but face possible criminal penalties for wagering for real money over the Internet.
Under Appleton’s proposal, it is the state’s cardrooms and tribal casinos who currently offer live poker that would be given an opportunity to expand their gaming services to include Internet poker. Applications would be approved by the state gambling commission, who would also oversee all other aspects of the new Internet poker endeavor.
HB 1114 is absent of exact fees to be assessed on online poker operators, presumably to be determined and set at a later date by the gambling commission. That commission would be responsible for establishing a number of rules and procedures needed to facilitate Washington State’s online poker regime.
The population of the state of Washington is around 7 million, making it the 13th most populous state in the country. It ranks ahead of two other regulated states in that regard, Nevada and Delaware, but trails the 9 million or so who call New Jersey home.
The new Washington ipoker proposal calls for the ability to
enter into multistate agreements allowing for shared player liquidity across common platforms. In other words, partnering with other regulated states.
Whether or not HB 1114 gains any traction in 2015 remains to be seen. But it is definitely a step in the right direction for the pro-online gambling crowd, especially considering that Washington is the only state that currently has laws that make it a crime to play online poker.