Online Gambling News the way they are!
   Web        OGpaper portal          
New online gambling law raises doubts

Weeks after a new state law about online casinos took effect, some legal experts are questioning whether the new online casinos legislation would hold up in court.
The new online casinos law echoes a federal law that already makes online casinos illegal and upped the crime to a felony.
But some First Amendment experts say the online casinos legislation be too broad and could leave people who own or operate regular web sites, not just online casinos risking prosecution for posting links to online casinos or even writing about online casinos.
Critics say the state must have a strong reason and a very specific law to limit free speech -- even in cyberspace.
"Providing a hypertext link does not seem to aid and abet gambling," said Michael Overing, a Los Angeles lawyer who specializes in the First Amendment. "Perhaps the law is overbroad in that respect."
Kraig Baker, a Seattle attorney who focuses on Internet issues including online casinos, said people "have pretty broad latitude" about what they can put on their Web sites. Typical exceptions are "fighting words," obscenity and threats to national security.
"The basic rule is that there's no liability for placing a link on a Web site," he said. "Traditionally, there is great deference paid toward speech."
The online casinos law, which took effect June 7, says anyone who "knowingly transmits or receives gambling information" using the Internet is guilty of a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Rick Day, director of the Washington State Gambling Commission, said most people don't need to worry. The state isn't out to get gambling aficionados who blog about online casinos or post tips on how to beat the dealer at blackjack, he said.
Instead he did mention that links or references to online casinos conceivably could spell trouble for Web site owners.
"What you have to look at is whether that is a solicitation or inducement for people to engage in something that's illegal."
He said the state will deal with online casinos case by case and is more likely to go after big corporations that link to gambling sites than "a local entrepreneur."
First-time online casinos offenders likely will get a cease-and-desist order pointing out the violation, he said; continued offenses might mean criminal charges.
He suggested that people who are unsure about putting gambling-related information on their Web site write to the commission and ask.
He took a harder line earlier this month when asked about Todd Boutte, a Bellingham man whose "Integrity Casino Guide" Web site linked to online gambling sites.
Boutte has also told The Bellingham Herald that he helped support his family by running the site and said he hoped he was safe, given that he didn't make or take bets himself.
"Any party involved could be guilty of a violation of state law," he said. "If the site also has a link to a gambling site, then to us that's no different."


Copyright 2005 © . All rights reserved.