Washington Lawmakers Wary of Decriminalizing Online Poker

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Legislators in Washington State not ready to reduce felony offense for playing online poker
 

A proposal to decriminalize online poker in Washington state has been put on hold.

State Rep. Paul Harris, who earlier this month introduced legislation to make online poker a civil infraction, told the Poker Players Alliance that fellow lawmakers had concerns about the changes.

In a 2+2 thread, PPA Vice President Rich Muny quoted Harris as saying, “We will have to wait until next year’s short session to get this passed.”

Under the legislation from Harris, the penalty for playing online poker would be reduced from a felony to a “class 3 civil infraction,” which calls for a maximum $50 fine and “statutory assessments,” under Washington law.

The statement from Harris even went a step further.

“I have been assured that this bill will be heard again and given serious consideration in the next session. I will not give up on this bill, this will be a priority for me,” Harris wrote. “Do not be discouraged, it was an important step to even have this bill heard. We WILL get online poker legal again in Washington State.”

Muny said the PPA continues to work with Harris to “introduce a broader bill next legislative session.”

In a statement to pokerfuse, Muny emphasized that this bill was “strongly supported” by the PPA and is only a stepping stone towards “toward complete repeal of the egregious penalty.”

Washington lawmakers outlawed online gambling in 2006, making poker a Class C felony, which calls for up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In a statement to the Washington House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee last week, Harris said online poker could generate as much as $400 million.

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