Online poker has come up as a topic of discussion in a few US states. Last week, a Washington State Senate Committee met to discuss a number of issues. One of the important items on the agenda was a discussion about the potential regulation and taxation of online poker in the state.
As the law currently stands in Washington State, online poker is considered to be illegal based on a 2006 law. There have been a number of attempts to change the law, however, to date the attempts have not yet met with success. There is, however, optimism that the law will change for the future.
At the hearing convened by the Committee on Commerce, Labor & Sports, legislators heard testimony from a number of top spokespeople for the online poker industry. The most notable of those who spoke was John Pappas, the Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance.
Pappas noted that regulating online gambling in Washington State is not about trying to increase the amount of gambling that exists, but rather to protect online consumers. He explained that it would simply be a new channel by which the current gaming industry can distribute their offerings.
Pappas also explained that while online poker is outlawed in Washington State, there are still thousands of residents who continue to gamble using offshore poker sites. Those who gamble online are playing at sites that may or may not be regulated, and are not approved or regulated by local authorities. This means that there is also no protection provided for those who gamble online. Pappas explained that the committee could be instrumental in protecting its citizens by regulating the industry.
At this time, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have regulated and legalized online poker. It is unclear whether Washington State will follow suit and move ahead with legalization. The fact that the Senate Committee discussed the issue may indicate that the state will consider regulation of the online poker industry in the future.
The Spectrum Gaming Group for the Gaming Commission of Washington State created a report on the potential revenue of online gambling in the state. The report that was published in November, noted that the state could generate a possible $100 million in annual revenues by legalizing the online gaming industry. Should legalization go ahead, the report explained that if the online gambling market is allowed to mature, revenue could be even greater.