Washington lawyer files suit over online poker ban

WSOP entry sign
So close, yet so far away for online players in Washington

On Day 1 of the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2005, Lee Rousso was in the thick of the action, taking his seat at one of the tables and preparing for a shot at millions - the winner of an online poker qualifier that supplied his $10,000 buy-in.

On the first day of the 2007 WSOP Main Event, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Rousso was in the thick of another action altogether - filing a lawsuit against the state of Washington, claiming the state's ban on Internet poker is a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Passed just last year, Senate Bill 6613 essentially banned Internet-based sports gambling in Washington - including online poker - in what lawmakers said was an effort to comply with the Federal Wire Act of 1961, designed to curtail sports-betting over the phone.

Rousso, a Renton-based attorney, sees it differently.

He told the Post Intelligencer the bill not only fails in complying with the Wire Act, it's actually a thinly veiled attempt to protect the in-state gambling industry and puts Washington directly in violation of the Constitution's commerce clause, which "forbids individual states from passing protectionist laws against other states' business."

Rousso, the Washington representative for the Poker Player's Alliance, is looking for a declaratory judgment against the bill, making it void, and feels optimistic about his chances.

"I think my chances are darn good," he told the paper.

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