Online Poker Bill In Washington State Gets Another Shot In 2016

Though A Long Shot, Washington State Online Poker Bill Back On Table For 2016 Session

This article may be outdated. Get the latest news on Industry here.

A bill that would legalize and regulate online poker in Washington state is now active for the 2016 legislative session.

Online poker bill, not dead for 2016

The bill — HB 1114 — was “reintroduced and retained in present status’ —  the bill originally appeared in 2015. That is a procedural step that allows the bill to be considered by the legislature.

If the bill isn’t considered in committee during this session, it will die at the end of the session. A source in the state House indicated to Online Poker Report that there are no current plans for the bill to move forward.

The bill had been introduced at the start of the 2015 session, as well, but made no progress beyond that.

Inside the Washington poker bill

The bill is the same as the first time it was introduced. Some of the key points:

  • The bill authorizes only online poker, not online casino games.
  • It creates licensing for both network operators (B2B) and for consumer-facing rooms (B2C).
  • Licensing fees would cover the cost of online poker regulation.
  • Taxes are to be determined.

The background of Washington and online poker

While online poker is legal and regulated online in just three states — New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware — Washington takes it a step further. In 2006, the state passed a law making it a felony to play or operate online poker in the state.

The state explicitly bans online poker, despite the fact that poker is available throughout the state in tribal casinos and cardrooms.

A grassroots effort by Curtis Woodard, who leads Washington Internet Poker Initiative, helped to get the bill in front of the legislature originally.

Last year, Woodard wrote that it “will take a real lobbying effort to bring this to fruition.”

DFS and online gaming push-pull

The online poker bill comes at an interesting time for online gaming in general, through the lens of daily fantasy sports. Washington is currently one of six states where no DFS operator is active, because of laws already on the books.

There are now two different bills that would deal with DFS in Washington: One that would expressly legalize and regulate it, and one that would make it a felony, like online poker.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
Privacy Policy