Washington State Online Poker Dead for 2016, Failed Expansion Attempts Continue Throughout US

Posted on February 19th, 2016 by Jon Pineda
Washington State online poker dead

Washington State online poker is shelved for another year after State Rep. Sherry Appleton’s iPoker legislation failed to make it to the House ahead of this week’s legislative deadline. (Image: crosscut.com)

Washington State online poker is once again dead after lawmakers in the Evergreen State failed to act on a bill that would legalize the card game on the Internet. Wednesday was the last to read legislation in committees and move bills to the floor of the state’s House of Representatives for consideration.

HB 1114, authored by State Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-District 23) and Rep. Vincent Buys (R-District 42), was a proposition that sought to legalize online poker to qualified commercial and tribal gaming corporations.

Washington is similar to Washington, DC, in that its politics are largely divided. The Cascade Mountains separate what is largely thought to be the two political climates, the more liberal and progressive half to the west with the more conservative base to the east.

Like its fate in 2015, HB 1114 failed to even receive a hearing in 2016 and was ultimately shelved on Wednesday as the legislative deadline passed.

Fantasy Sports Battle

The emergence of daily fantasy sports (DFS) might be hampering online poker’s potential in the United States. Online fantasy contests have taken center stage in Internet gambling news across the country, and the same holds true in Washington.

Home to some of the strictest gambling laws in America, Washington is one of only five states that explicitly bans its residents from participating in real cash DFS games like those found on DraftKings and FanDuel. Washington’s constitution mandates that all forms of gambling are illegal unless specifically authorized by the state.

While Washington has never brought charges against a resident for playing online poker at an unregulated website, the state has pursued criminal charges for DFS players, most recently in 2011 when it went after a citizen for running NASCAR contests online.

Calls to legalize DFS have been made in the Olympia capital, but no traction has been made. The general opinion in America’s most northwestern state is that DFS will need to be ruled upon fully before lawmakers begin tackling the subject of online poker.

Another One Bites the Dust

Numerous states are looking at schemes to legalize online poker in 2016 including California and New York, but the best bet rests in the Keystone State. Pennsylvania lawmakers are hotly divided in the state’s capital Harrisburg, as first-term Governor Tom Wolf has held steady in his position to increase funds for education.

That doesn’t sit well with conservative lawmakers who aren’t budging on raising taxes.

Online poker is seen as a possible solution to inflate state revenue without directly taxing citizens who are already being stretched thin. In addition to potentially raising the sales tax, Wolf has also suggested raising the sin tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack.

Pennsylvanians already pay more tariffs on gasoline than any other state, with 51.6 cents of every gallon going to Harrisburg. Republican politicians say the government needs to stop taking peoples money, which is why Internet poker and online gambling is seen as a warranted alternative.

Though iPoker has been the subject of many state bills in the United States, today it’s still only Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware where you can hop online and play poker.

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