State legislator calling for changes to online gambling prohibition

In an attempt to overturn changes that made Internet gambling a Class C Felony in the U.S., Washington state representative Chris Strow is introducing new legislation that would legalize the activity.

Strow (R-Whidbey Island) aims to modify last year's Senate Bill 6613, which made in-home online gambling illegal. House Bill 1243, which the representative announced Tuesday, would overturn its predecessor's felony charge language.

The bill will now await a hearing in the House Commerce and Labor Committee.

"There's a certain point at which policy can be perceived as 'nanny stateish,'" Strow said in a release. "I think we reached that point with last year's legislation and I'm aiming to make amends."

Introduced last January by Democratic State Senator Margarita Prentice, Senate Bill 6613 reaffirmed the prohibition of Internet and other electronic forms of gambling in Washington.

The bill was amended to upgrade online wagering from a gross misdemeanor to a Class C felony. The felony status carries with it a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.

Senate Bill 6613 became law in June 2006.

Though the public needs to be protected from online gaming scams, people should be allowed to as they choose in their own homes, Strow said in the release.

"Most certainly choosing to gamble, or play a game of skill such as poker, should not have been made a crime equivalent to possessing child pornography or threatening the Governor," he said.

Strow has requested a hearing on the bill, but is encouraging those who support online gaming to make the same appeal by calling or writing Steve Conway, Chairman of the House Commerce and Labour Committee.

Conway's office number in Washington is (360)786-7906 and his email address is

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