Washington State poker initiative moves forward
Washington State has one of the most archaic anti-online-poker laws in the nation and a player led initiative is seeking to overturn the 2006 law introduced by ant-gambling crusader state senator Margarita Prentice; a law that made playing (yes PLAYING) online poker a felony in the state. The law was upheld by Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts in 2012, and attempts to reverse the law through legislation have so far fallen flat. Now a player-led initiative has been introduced in the state, and on Tuesday they received a final approval of their language by the state.
Fortunately for players, Washington State officials haven’t tried to enforce the law in any meaningful way, and no Washington State resident has ever been arrested or charged with the crime of playing online poker. But just having the law on the books is something that virtually every poker enthusiast would like to see remedied –which is precisely what WAiPokerNow.com (@olympiachange on Twitter) is seeking to do.
One of the players spearheading the Washington State effort is Curtis “Curt” Woodward, who explained to me how the initiative would work (I’m paraphrasing here) and the multiple avenues it could go down:
* The initiative could receive the necessary number of signatures to be brought to the legislature where even if it fails it would land on the ballot.
* If the organizers do not collect the necessary number of signatures the initiative could still be taken up in the house if a legislator chooses to introduce it.
The first option is the most feasible considering a Poker Players Alliance (PPA) bill failed to go anywhere in the Washington state house earlier this year, but the process of collecting signatures will not be easy, especially for a true grass-roots organization. The final goal of the grass-roots group is to see the Washington Legislature take up the initiative in 2014 after collecting the necessary number of signatures, which gives them a contingency plan of taking the initiative to the voters in 2014.
There are actually two separate initiatives: I-582, which would legalize and regulate online poker in the state and at the same time repeal the 2006 law that made playing online poker a crime. The second initiative, I-583, is simply a scaled-back version of the first, aiming only to repeal the 2006 law.
The group will need to collect 300,000 signatures and is going to need a lot of help in doing so. The initiatives will be made available online and the group is recruiting volunteers to help collect signatures. If you’d like to help in the fight to overturn this travesty of a law in Washington you can visit the group’s Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/WashingtonOnlinePokerInitiative or Twitter @olympiachange.
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