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Online gambling in Washington may not be a crime soon

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.

Washington online gamblingIt 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:

"Gambling information" 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 communications commission.

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 nature.

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.


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