Net gambling lawsuit hits snag in Washington


The lawsuit filed in Washington against the state's online gambling ban has hit a snag that will delay the case. However, according to Lee Rousso, the attorney and Poker Players Alliance representative for Washington who filed the lawsuit, the hiccup won't prevent him from pursuing his case.

"First, the state has won the first round in court," Rousso says in his PPA update. "The state's strategy, not surprisingly, is to avoid a hearing on the merits of the case. As part of the strategy the state has made what I consider outrageous discovery requests."

The state is demanding information that, according to Rousso, is confidential and implicates his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. He requested a protective order or some other relief from having to produce the information, but was denied it by the King County Superior Court.

"I was surprised and disappointed, but it's worth remembering that a court is like a casino: anything can happen," Rousso said.

In response, he has filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals, Division One, but if it rules the same way, it could be difficult for Rousso to move forward with his case.

"The good news is that I have a substituted plaintiff lined up who could step into my shoes and pursue the exact same Constitutional challenge to Washington's law," Rousso said. "However, by the time I exhaust my appeals and re-file with another plaintiff, we will be well into 2008."

Rousso originally filed his lawsuit on the first day of the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event. In the lawsuit he alleges that the state's law fails to comply with the Wire Act passed by the federal government, which has never extended criminal liability to the players, whereas the Washington law makes it a felony for gamblers to play online.

He also believes it's actually a thinly veiled attempt to protect the in-state gambling industry and that it puts Washington directly in violation of the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause, which forbids individual states from passing protectionist laws against other states' business.

In Rousso's original plan, he was hoping to have the case heard in court before the 2008 political season kicks off, in case political strategy was necessary to get the law changed.

"Given the events that have transpired, it appears that I have no choice but to make a political issue of the Internet poker law," Rousso said.

"I believe that I have an effective strategy in place for changing this state's uniquely oppressive Internet poker law. I will be revealing that strategy to the public on or about Jan. 14, 2008, opening day of the 2008 legislative session here in the Evergreen State."

In the meantime, Rousso is also seeking other Washington state PPA members to help him organize the political effort. He is hoping to meet with volunteers the weekend of Dec. 15-16.

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