Washington state bans Internet gambling

Washington state has banned Internet gambling. The new legislation, Senate Bill 6613, prohibits the use of the Internet and telecommunication devices to wager bets, sell Lottery tickets, or exchange information about gambling.

The bill increases the penalty for these violations from a misdemeanor to a Class C felony, with violators facing up to 10 years in prison.

In addition, the Lottery Commission is prohibited from offering any game where the Internet can be used to purchase tickets or chances. A 60% vote of both houses of the legislature is needed before the Lottery Commission can offer a game that allows or requires players "to use a device that electronically replicates any game of chance, including electronic scratch tickets."

The original bill was introduced by Democratic senator Margarita Prentice on January 17, 2006, and was aimed at prohibiting operation or participation in Internet gambling, and at revising existing gambling laws to include electronic and mechanical technologies.

Following its introduction, the bill was referred to the Senate Labor, Commerce, Research and Development Committee for review. The original bill was subsequently replaced with a revised edition that included a series of overreaching and restrictive provisions, including the increase in punishment from a misdemeanor to a Class C felony and the introduction of the new Lottery Commission regulations.

The committee disregarded the original bill and only debated the substitute legislation, approving it shortly after it was submitted in early February.

Senate Bill 6613 then advanced to the Senate, where it was passed by a 44-0 voice vote on February 14, 2006. It was referred to the House of Representatives on February 16, 2006, where it was passed by a 93-5 vote on March 2, 2006.

Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill into law on March 28, 2006. It will take effect on June 7, 2006.

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