Online poker and fantasy sports bills reintroduced in Washington State

Lawmakers in Washington State have introduced legislation to authorize and regulate online poker, and classify fantasy sports contests as a game of skill.

Introduced by Representatives Sherry Appleton and Vincent Buys, HB1114 would authorise internet poker games for money on any internet-capable device in Washington, which was the first US state to specifically ban internet gambling.

The bill states that the internet is an "integral tool" in the everyday lives of Washingtonians, and that despite a lack of regulation due to prohibition, playing poker over the internet remained popular with Washington state residents.

"Poker has long been an authorized activity in Washington state, and with the internet as a technological aid, poker can be conducted in a virtual environment and played from the privacy of one's own computer or mobile device," the bill states.

The bill would also allow the state governor to enter into multi-state agreements for shared player liquidity across common platforms.

Under the bill, the Washington State Gambling Commission must establish a two-tiered licensing system for operators of internet card rooms and operators of internet poker networks, with licences valid for a period of one year only.

The bill does not contain any so-called "bad actor" clauses designed to block any operator active in the market after December 31st 2006 when UIGEA came into force.

Bill 1301, sponsored by seven Representatives including Eric Pettigrew, Brandon Vick and Vincent Buys, would classify fantasy sports contests as contests of skill, rather than gambling. It would specifically exempt fantasy sports contests from any classification as gambling.

The two bills are identical to legislation introduced nearly exactly a year ago, which failed to progress during the legislative session.


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