State may change online gambling ban

The Washington State Government has been quietly working on a bill that would change the felony charge language in the online gambling bill passed in the state last year in order to allow for recreational online gambling at home.

Bill 1243 was introduced by Rep. Chris Strow and five other representatives in January.

"My goal with this legislation is to correct an element from last year's online gambling bill, Senate Bill 6613, that made it a Class C Felony to gamble recreationally in one's own home if it is done online," said Strow in a January press release.

The bill had its first reading Jan. 15 and has since recently been approved by the Washington House and Senate.

It was passed by the Senate April 3 by a vote of 75-2, and the House followed suit on April 17 with a 62-36 vote.

The bill passed last year in Washington and signed into law made it a felony offense to gamble online, whether it be in an online casino, poker room, or sportsbook.

Bill 1243 changes some of the language in the previous bill so that recreational use of online gambling is allowed. The person will just have to show that they've downloaded the game strictly for their own enjoyment in their primary residence.

The change does not affect online gambling operators or gambling information portals which will remain illegal. They are considered as profiting and promoting gambling.

"While I do see the need for protecting our citizens from online gaming that may be scamming innocent victims, I do think that there is also a level of accountability, as an adult, to do as he or she chooses in his or her own home," Strow said.

"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."

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