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December 7,

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Internet Poker Gambling Law Challenged in Washington State

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The World Series of Poker started on Friday in Las Vegas, also on Friday Washington State Attorney Lee Rousso filed suit in that state in an effort to overturn its 2006 enacted law that makes playing Internet gambling games a Class C felony. In the suit Rousso called the law a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

Rousso said the “first legal challenge to the law also should be the last.”

The ban took effect last spring and specifically prohibits Internet based card and other casino games, including Texas Hold’em tournaments, that poker players in the past have used to qualify for entry to the annual multimillion dollar WSOP tournament. Rousso claims that many of those attempting to qualify in the past are from Washington. To try and do so today is committing a felony in that state.

A spokeswoman for the Washington Gambling Commission, Susan Arland said their lawyers have not yet seen the lawsuit and would comment only after they have read it. “We don’t have anything to say just just yet,” said Arland.

Rousso said the state law is “flawed”, arguing that the state measure was passed not to put the state in compliance with the federal wire act. “Instead,” he said, it “protect(s) the in-state gambling industry, including card rooms and casinos.”

“This,” said Rousso, “puts Washington in clear conflict with the Constitution’s Commerce Clause”, which forbids individual states from passing protectionist laws against other state’s business.

Rousso, 49, qualified online for the 2006 WSOP by winning an Internet tournament.

 

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