Online gambling in Washington may not be a crime
Washington was one of the
first states in the USA to make online gambling illegal by its
residents. They even went as far as making gambling on the
Internet a Class C felony.
It seems that there are
finally some level-headed representatives in the local
legislature, as a bill has passed both the state Senate and
House which provides protection for the people.
House bill 1243 provides
affirmative defense to unlawful internet gambling if the
defendant committed the offense in his or her primary residence,
as long as it is for personal enjoyment, and not to operate a
website which derives income from transmitting or receiving
gambling information. The previous bill was also amended to
reflect the changes.
The affiliate side of the
business is very unclear. The meaning of "gambling information"
as defined by the bill reads:
means any wager made in the course of and any information
intended to be used for professional gambling. In the
application of this definition, information as to wagers,
betting odds and changes in betting odds shall be presumed to be
intended for use in professional gambling. This section shall
not apply to newspapers of general circulation or commercial
radio and television stations licensed by the federal
From the definition it is
clear that sports betting portals which do not process wagers,
but publish and/or update betting odds are considered illegal.
However, casino gambling and casino games are not mentioned
anywhere in the definition of "gambling information", which may
prove to be a loophole for online casino oriented websites.
Furthermore, the definition of "professional gambling" seems to
be more land-base oriented, as the words "Internet" or "website"
have not been mentioned once. It seems that it could swing both
ways, depending on the judge who would preside a case of this
The House bill 1243, is
currently referred to the Committee on Commerce & Labor, and
still needs to be signed by the Governor of the State of
Washington, before it takes effect.