PokerStars Blocks Residents of Washington State from Playing Online Poker

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PokerStars will be one less star as it announced on September 30, 2010 that it will no longer provide real money games for citizens residing in the State of Washington citing a decision made by Washington’s Supreme Court. Some online poker sites pulled out of Washington back in 2006 after legislators decided that online poker wagering constituted a Class C felony.

PokerStars explain the rationale for this decision in a post on their website:

“To date, PokerStars has operated in Washington on the basis of legal opinions where the central advice was that the state could not constitutionally regulate Internet poker, or at least could not discriminate in favor of local cardrooms and against online sites. Last week, however, the Washington Supreme Court for the first time rejected that position and upheld the state’s Internet gaming prohibition.

“In light of this decision, following extensive consultation with our legal advisors, we believe that the right course of action is to now block real money play by Washington residents on the PokerStars.com site. This policy will remain in effect until the law changes or subsequent legal challenges succeed.… We regret this decision, which will no doubt disappoint our customers in Poker-Stars-LogoWashington State. However, in all of the jurisdictions where we operate, we are committed to making responsible decisions that are based on a full and considered understanding of the most up-to-date legal advice.”

There is speculation that Full Tilt Poker will follow PokerStars out of Washington.

Players from Washington State who have already deposited real money will not lose any of the funds in customer accounts. The payment service teams will continue to assist Washington members with cash out requests. However, there is no indication whether Washington residents who have not met bonus play-through requirements will be allowed to make early cash outs as it seems unlikely that they are can continue playing in order to fulfill these requirements.

The new law also appears to also apply to anybody visiting the State of Washington, as it is now illegal to play online within state lines. If any player is caught logging time on the online tables, they could potentially be charged with a felony.

What does this mean for poker players who earn their living on the world’s largest poker room? Well they can either re-locate their game play to online sites which still continue to accept residents of the state. However, they may still find themselves in breach of the law. Alternatively, they can pack their belongings and move to another state or some may even decide to move north to join their neighbours in Canada.

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A veteran of the poker industry, James has been a member of the Canada Poker team since the beginning. He is always working quietly in the background to make sure that no big story gets left unpublished.

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