States Can't Wait For Feds; Rushing To Put Online Poker Players In Jail

from the thanks-for-playing dept

While Congress is still sorting out a new federal law that will make it clear that playing online poker is a crime, it appears the state of Washington couldn’t wait that long. Digg points out that if you’re an online poker player in the state of Washington, you’re now a felon (congrats!). Of course, like the federal attempts, the state government claims this isn’t really a change, but simply a clarification. Some politicians have claimed from the beginning that playing poker online is illegal based on current laws — but the laws are worded in such a way as to be quite confusing.

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Comments on “States Can't Wait For Feds; Rushing To Put Online Poker Players In Jail”

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E Fearnley says:

Re: Re:

Tis a sad day indeed. As soon as the US can figure out how to get in on the action I suspect I’ll be able to play again. Why does the United States government feel so entitled to take a part of my money that I am choosing to send to another country? They already take one-third of my paycheck. Another thing that I dont understand- all of the money that flows through our casinos has already been taxed. Why is it taxed again if you happen to win a jackpot? Woke up this Saturday morning wanting to play a nice little poker tournament at Poker Champs. Well, my accounts been closed as I live in the US. Anybody here know of any sites still allowing US players?

KJHawk says:

Re: Government Intervention...

Hey… Our representatives are just doing what the Constitution tells them to… “Serve and Protect”… Unfortunately, they don’t seem to understand that the “Serve” part meant that they should serve the people and not the special interest groups and other extremists, and that the “Protect” part is supposed to be “…from foriegn aggressors”… and NOT from ourselves.

dennis parrott (user link) says:

Re: why must there be "gubbmint" regulation?

our faboo federal government criminalizes behavior because it has no effective way to extort money from the behavior. the feds can’t tax the beejeepers out of online gambling so they make it a crime. once you are a “felon”, you lose many rights and you’re an easier mark to be controlled in Prison Camp America.

mostly its about the money.

mostly its because we the people have forgotten where our rights truly derive from and have allowed a bunch of politicians to take them away in piecemeal fashion.

fsckr (user link) says:

Can't wait until...

Uncle Sam reveals his poker, goes all in, makes you fold


But seriously, the federal/state government would be better off figuring out a way to tax the online playhouses rather than limiting the freedoms of their citizens. In the end, I see this becoming one of those unenforcable rules that we are all aware of but that no one cares to heed.



Tim Arview (user link) says:

Re: Can't wait until...

“But seriously, the federal/state government would be better off figuring out a way to tax the online playhouses rather than limiting the freedoms of their citizens.”

Yes…that…or actually bust the online playhouses rather than the customers.

Also, in reference to a comment above regarding the state of Washington, one has to wonder… What about online casinoes whose servers are in Washington? What if it’s legal in my state, but not in the state where my favorite casino is housed? Which state has jurisdiction?

Usually I’m all for giving states more power, but the Internet makes that rather difficult to enforce.

“I see this becoming one of those unenforcable rules that we are all aware of but that no one cares to heed.”

Care to rip a tag off a mattress? 😉

fat_hamster says:

Re: Re: Felony?

It takes a hacker to play poker online? Since no one has yet been charged with a crime of playing poker how in the hell can he

be given a sentence more punitive then a child rapist? And what does any of this have to to with white collar crime? Next you will be writing that it takes a nuclear physicist to download tunes

and his sentence will be worse then that of a serial murderer.

At least you’re not given to hyperbole.

Diego says:

Online Felony Poker Players

What’s the big deal, people want to throw away perfectly good money in the comfort of their own homes and we are leaving it up to the bureaucracy to make it a crime and then go arresting some poor guy after loosing his mortgage payment to an online casino. So we have begun to plummet to new lows as a society. We might consider taking a clue from the European Community and trim off all the extraneous laws to focus more on keeping our country safe from domestic terrorism, and the illegal alien influx for lack of any real border security.

Wolfger (profile) says:

Online == Felony, Offline == Legal: WTF?

Gambling is gambling. How can they justify legal gambling in a casino, and a 5 year prison term for gambling on the internet? It’s total BS.

Here in Detroit, a 5 year old child watched his mother die because 911 operators refused to send help. They are facing “up to 1 year” on a misdemeanor for what is essentially negligent homicide, but Joe Blow in Seattle goes to the big house now for playing online blackjack? This country is so far out of whack, it’s pathetic.

JustMe says:

The real felons out there are the people who steal from all of us everyday at the gas pumps. But that is Ok with the gov’t as this increases their sales tax on each gallon while the gov’t ignores the impact this has on most all of us.

So why not invite the gov’t to a friendly game of poker? We can show them what it feels like to have their money taken from them and get little to nothing in return.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, they should probably lower it, but it they suddenly dropped it and gas was 30-40c cheaper, then people would start driving all over the place cause its it “cheap”

Then from supply and demand principles gas would go back up to somewhere near it current price. THEN, how could we pay for all the welfare and other gov’t programs that reward sitting on your ass or not being productive members of society?

Donald says:

Re: Re: Re: garfiode

Why would there be a shortage of gas because if they abolish the gas taxes? So what if people drive more then they do currently if they abolish the gas tax. The prices should go down because of the competition. They’ll just have to make more gas or allow citizens in different parts of the country to run on the same type of gas, which we don’t. LA people use some type of high octane gas because of smog compared to some place in Utah. So it makes the cost of gas go up, to make the LA gas a higher cleaner form of gasoline. If people didn’t have to pay for the gas tax and drove more, I’m sure the government would get more out of your income on April 15 to make every thing even and then punish use by making us use go carts with 5 gallon gas tanks to “SAVE” on gas. LOL The gas tax is not to SAVE our gasoline, it’s for PORK BARREL PROJUECTS IN IRAQ. lol

Fab says:

Need to remember. The only people they are protecting is business. Everything they do is to protect some business from another. It looks like the big casino’s have put up enough money to make the lawmakers happy.

When white collar criminals receive bigger sentences than actually violent criminals, you can see who they want to protect. It’s sad.

Cindy Oshea says:

playing poker online

This whole issue makes me sick. Why pick on the poker players. I personally do not play poker, but I feel that it should be left up to the individual as to how they spend their hard earned money. There are more important issues in the world today without crowding the jails and creating more burden on the tax payers just because someone chooses to play poker online. Worry about our gas prices, the war in Iraq, starving people, the health care system – it needs a major overhaul. Political bull crap is what this whole gambling issue is.

John (profile) says:

But it's okay to play the lottery

Remember that the US governments (federal, state, and local) get NO money from online gambling.

But, they get plenty of money when you play the lottery at the local convenience store. The government also gets their share from state casinos… unless the casinos have deals to be tax-emept.

So, please, if you must gamble, buy a lottery ticket.

DaWool says:

Online Gambling is WRONG, but Lottery is OK?

Government, esp. State Govt, is a conglomerate of hippocrites. It’s illegal for you to gamble online (states lose profit big time… profits go to some offshore gaming company). However, it is LEGAL for the states to run their own gambling ring in the form of a “LOTTERY”. And the rake is like 50%! (I made that up, I don’t know how much they shave off, but I’m sure it’s a lot) Not even Vegas can get away with those kind of favorable odds. Ridiculous. I’m “all in” with my remaining $54 (after filling up my car with $3 gas, after paying city taxes, state taxes, federal taxes, sales taxes, liquor taxes, cigarette taxes, and parking tickets).

Deadstroke says:

Re: Re:

Keep this in mind… The fuel tax is based on percentages, it is not fixed amounts. When the price of fuel increases, the amount of tax also increases. When the price of fuel increases, the cost to repair the roads and highways also increases, which in turn should be covered by the higher revenues that the increased taxes should cover. It is really a visicious circle. What really bites my hind quarters is that you hear all of these projects that are being canceled or postponed because the cost of materials is too high! UUUUUUMMMMMM – Where the heck is all of our tax money going?!?!

The last time I checked, it is still illeagal in this country to tax without representation. Do you feel as if you are being represented for your tax dollars?

Junyo (user link) says:

This isn’t about politicians caving to “Big Business”; online gaming IS “Big Business”. From nonexistent in 1995 to around $6 Billion annually now, and projected to be at $16B by decade’s end. And it’s a ridiculously high profit business compared to traditional gaming businesses; no expensive real estate, comp’d drinks, and minimal employees.

The problem for online gaming is they’re in the middle of the perfect storm, with no natural patrons; moralists from the right and the nannystate left hate gambling in general because they know what’s good for you better than you know yourself. Typically they’re opposed by politians with dollar signs in their eyes, but the greedy kind of politician realizes how difficult it is to perform a shakedown via taxes on an offshore casino with out of state customers, so they’re not sticking they’re neck out so that Little Johnnie can run up his Mom’s credit card and drive her to a life of prostitution (or whatever cautionary true life tale of danger they put on the 10 o’clock news tonight…) And of course, the politians getting greased by the brick and mortar casinos are going to help their paymasters by hamstringing the competition.

On a slightly different topic, Diego wrote “We might consider taking a clue from the European Community and trim off all the extraneous laws…” Excuse me? The proposed EC Constitution is 15 times longer than the US Constitution, and the EC has drafted regulations on subjects as minute and esoteric as the fluid capacity of condoms, on top of the laws of individual member states. Not exactly a model for cutting down on regulations. Pray God we don’t take a clue from Europe… except for on female beach attire.

Frank says:

All I can think is...

Just how in God’s name do they plan to enforce this ridiculous law? Are we gonna do this China-style, and hire people to watch these sites?

Whatever the effort, it looks like a tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars in my opinion, especially when you consider that the most likely spur for these laws is that the government isn’t getting it’s take from the online casinos. Isn’t turning normal people into criminals a play from the RIAA/MPAA handbook?

Carminhato says:

So naive

Our government is still so naive… Like if making something illegal would stop people (specially the addicted ones) from doing what they are use to… Drugs are illegal, gambling is illegal in most states… do people stop doing it? Not in this world… making something illegal only opens a door to the underworld to explore… don’t make me remind you of the prohibition of alcohol (1920-33) that only made the mafia richer and the streets more violent… I bet that if the government bans online poker there will be an illegal poker game a block from where you live…. Wouldn’t it be better for the government to tax legalize in the US such business and TAX it? Use the tax money to prevent and treat addicted gamblers… there are some things we cannot fight in this world… an in my opinion if you cannot beat it join it.

anonymous coward says:

the goverment is NOT behind this. the CASINOS are behind this. it’s just that the casinos are smooth enough to keep their lobbying efforts behind closed doors, as opposed to the ham-handed RIAA/MPAA which runs around suing everyone they can find creating all kinds of bad press for itself.

if you want to do something about this legislation, boycott Vegas.

it’s NOT a felony to gamble, it IS a felony to gamble anywhere other than a U.S. owned corporate casino.

General Observer says:

Re: anonymous coward

um, no. The casinos are not behind this. If not for online poker, Vegas wouldn’t be making anything from poker. You think 6000 people would play in the WSOP ME if they weren’t playing online 5 nights a week?

Online poker stokes the fire, and the casinos know it. Online poker motivates people to go to Vegas to spend money, it doesn’t discourage them.

Now, boycotting Vegas might be the right thing to do afterall. If we refuse to go to Vegas, then the casinos will lobby for legaization of online poker, but they are not lobbying for criminalization of it now. Gauranteed.

anonymous coward says:

Re: Re: anonymous coward

Wrong! The casinos ARE behind this. Television and movies have turned no limit into a cool new pastime. Crappy offshore gambling sites sending spam email couldn’t have built it into the industry it has become.

And now that it is the hot table game, the casinos are going to work overtime to shut down your access to any venue that they can’t control.

wolff000 says:

The Real Reason Why

The reason we have so many ridiculous laws like this one is because you can’t control law abiding citizens. If everyone was honest and did the right thing the government would have next to no power over anything. If you create laws that make the common man a criminal you now have alot of control. This is just another perfect example of that fact.

Silver says:

Thuggish and Mobbish

The government is like the mob they don’t want any action unless they get a cut. Since they can’t break peoples legs they just hand out felonys. And earlier I read someone asking aren’t felony’s reserved for serious crimes and I’d have to say no, not anymore almost everything is either a petty misdemeanor (traffic ticket) or a felony nowdays they hand them out like candy on halloween.

Yakov (profile) says:

Proxy and encrypt

I can see it now, all the online pocker sites will be proxied, use high grade incyiption and the pocket sniffer on earth will know what you are doing. Then all you gotta do is fund you account like you normally would — through a foreign CC, and you’re set. I have better ways to spend my money, but please tell me — off all the starbucks and MS employees over there — you think anyone will ever be dumb enough to get caught with this stupid law. This is politics as usual, with no real means and or ideas of enforcing these laws. Waste of time and tax payer money. Can we get these politicians a leasson on how the internet works, because it would seem they’re all functioning like it’s 1992.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Just how in God’s name do they plan to enforce this ridiculous law?”

– Require US ISP’s to block access to to online gambling sites.

– Make collection of ILLEGAL gambling debts unenforceble by law (US casinos etc. are legal)

– Prohibit US banks from processing the transactions.

“But they can’t do that…”

Oh yeah? Don’t bet on it?

Getting public support for gambling is tough even when you show how the public will benefit.

Getting public support to ban online gambling is pretty easy. Just explain how the casinos and sites are off-shore and gambling losses mean money exits the US. Adding “possibly to fund terrorism” is optional…

Donald Duck says:

I'm for open source total free net usage

Pretty soon I would imagine most state governments has or will have legal running Table Games, Black Jack and Poker. Government ‘Card Sharks’, they’ll put the tax department in charge, they’ll be prefect!

I guess there might be a move to make Lottery casino type games legal online. But first, they need to get rid of all the competition!

So the ‘idea’ in the future because you have a online gambling habit could become illegal. Puts a thought in the works of your imagine that your future cell mate Tyrone would make you his private little toothless girl friend in cell block F. Just because you gambled online, which leaves most of the gambling loot in the hands of government henchman state employe of the year Harry ‘The Embezzler’ Capone. Via legal lottery systems and possible future internet state lottery gaming sites.

Elysian Reaper says:


In Washington state the Indian tribes (Native Americans to PC folk) dumped a bunch of campaign cash on the Dem party to help them keep power and increase their grip on the legislature. Now low and behold the ruling party decides to make online gambling the equivelent of possesing child porn. Did I mention that the tribes make most of their money off their casinos? What could this be?

MRVAIN says:


I am an avid hold em player, and also a once proud defender of the United States…but come on, WTF. It’s poker, you can gamble at any number of Casinos anywhere…play poker for money anywhere…but not online. I go out to sea to protect the rights of those jackasses that decided it was so wrong to play for money online because “We can’t tax your winnings.” I was once honored to defend a government who cared for it’s people, this is just another reason to my many that makes me happy I am close to the end of my enlistment

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