Washing State efforts to legalize online poker advance
Agricultural Research Service, Public Domain

A pair of related pro-online poker voter initiatives has received final language approval from the state of Washington.

The measures are designed to authorize the
play of real-money internet poker and remove Washington State’s existing law that makes the playing of online poker a felony.

According to Curtis Woodard, the organizer of a group planning a petition drive supporting the proposals, the state has also assigned official numbers to the pair. This prepares them for voter participation after official ballot titles and summaries are created in the next week.

The measure that seeks to authorize and regulate online poker in Washington (I-582) would require approved operators to have a physical presence in the state, though not necessarily a brick-and-mortar casino. The separate proposal to remove the current criminal penalties (I-583) is a fallback position in case I-582 does not pan out.

As Woodard noted to pokerfuse, “Adoption of I-582 would make I-583 moot.”

Woodard also reiterated the group’s plans for pushing the proposals.

“These are initiatives to the legislature,” he said, “which means our goal is to get the 2014 legislature to adopt one of these measures, or adopt their own measure on this issue. Failing that, we then have a shot at the polls in November ’14.

“While we are gathering signatures, we will also be seeking allies in the legislature who could themselves introduce these measures in the nest session, should we fail to collect the required number of signatures.”

Those interested in following the progress of this grassroots effort can visit the group’s site at waipokernow.com. Volunteers will be able to download and print copies of the petition to circulate for signatures.

“We will have it available through a printer with many outlets in the state as well, to make it easy for volunteers,” Woodward indicated.

The final versions of both I-582 and I-583 can be found on the state’s Elections & Voting web site.

Woodward announced the creation of the two ballot initiatives designed to improve the legal landscape of poker in Washington earlier this month following a recent legislative proposal to decriminalize online poker that failed in February for lack of political support.