state already cracking down on online casinos
Todd Boutte, An American who lives in Washington,
supports his family running an online web site that links its
visitors to online casinos. Starting June 7, he'll be risking
prosecution as a felon.
June 7 is the effective date for new provisions in state
gambling law that forbid using the Internet to transmit
"gambling information." The new provisions, overwhelmingly
approved by the Legislature, updated an older state gambling
statute that already prohibited transmission of gambling
information by telephone, telegraph, radio and semaphore. They
also boosted the penalty, making Internet gambling a felony with
a potential maximum penalty of five years in prison. The law is
aimed directly at online casinos.
There are thousands of online casinos on the internet today, but
the major problem facing online casinos remains regulation and
laws like this one in Washington. In the past, the United States
has seen online casinos be debated by politicians and lobbying
groups, but not much has come to fruition. In Italy, for
example, some online casinos are blocked by internet service
providers. The United Kingdom, for example, is more lax against
The online casinos industry is booming and the debate continues
with many unanswered questions. Are online casinos moral? Are
online casinos legal? If so, how legal are online casinos? And
where? Should online casinos be restricted or regulated better
or even taxed? Are offshore online casinos hurting local
The debate rages on, but the state of Washington has decided to
make some moves against online casinos.
Boutte hopes the state law won't apply to him. His theory is
that he doesn't take any bets himself and doesn't market the
site to gamblers in Washington state. He gets his money from the
casinos and other advertisers that are featured on his site,
called "Integrity Casino Guide."
Boutte plans to try to avoid problems with state or federal
prosecutors by getting the gambling sites to send him letters
saying they are not paying him with the proceeds of bets
illegally placed in this state or nation. Only about 40 percent
of online gambling revenue comes from the U.S., Boutte said, so
he questions state and U.S. jurisdiction over him if he gets
paid out of the other 60 percent.
"You've got a casino in Antigua but managed out of South Africa
that pays me from a bank in Canada," he said.
Boutte has three kids and one on the way, and has been building
the business for five years. "I'm not trying to do anything
illegal," Boutte said. "I'm really trying to be on the up and
Neverthless, Rick Day, director of the Washington State Gambling
Commission, didn't see it that way.
"Any party involved ... could be guilty of a violation of state
law," Day said. "If the site also has a link to a gambling site,
then to us that's no different," he said. The state of
Washington looks to be serious.