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Old 09-30-2010, 09:56 AM   #1
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PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Hi all,

I have sad news. PokerStars has announced that, as a result of the WA State Supreme Court ruling upholding that state's anti-online gaming law, PokerStars has decided to stop serving that state.

Here's the announcement:

Quote:
PokerStars statement on the blocking of players from Washington State

PokerStars today announced that it would cease providing real-money poker to residents of Washington State. To date, PokerStars has operated in Washington on the basis of legal opinions where the central advice was that the state could not constitutionally regulate Internet poker, or at least could not discriminate in favor of local cardrooms and against online sites. Last week, however, the Washington Supreme Court for the first time rejected that position and upheld the state's Internet gaming prohibition.

In light of this decision, following extensive consultation with our legal advisors, we believe that the right course of action is to now block real money play by Washington residents on the PokerStars.com site. This policy will remain in effect until the law changes or subsequent legal challenges succeed. Our decision to block real money play in Washington does not affect the balance of funds in customer accounts, which remain completely safe. Our payment services team continues to be available to Washington State residents to assist with cashout requests.

We regret this decision, which will no doubt disappoint our customers in Washington State. However, in all of the jurisdictions where we operate, we are committed to making responsible decisions that are based on a full and considered understanding of the most up-to-date legal advice.

PokerStars remains supportive of passing sensible Internet poker regulation in the United States that will provide much-needed tax revenues and formalize consumer protections. PokerStars operates under those conditions, complying with rigorous licensing regimes, for its worldwide operations in the Isle of Man (UK), and for local operations in Italy, France and Estonia.

Last edited by Rich Muny; 09-30-2010 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:01 AM   #2
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Re: Bad News: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

If you haven't done so recently, I recommend we all tell our lawmakers that we demand that they support our right to play. Just go to www.theppa.org/takeaction. It takes just 60 seconds.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:13 AM   #3
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Here's their FAQ, from http://www.pokerstars.com/poker/news/washington/faq:

Washington State: Frequently Asked Questions

General
My account
Playing on PokerStars
An important final word
Contact Support
Back to top

General:


Why can I no longer play on PokerStars?


For an explanation of this issue, please review our statement at:
PokerStars statement on the blocking of players from Washington State

My account:

What will happen to my account balance?

Your account balance is completely safe. You are allowed to cash out your balance or transfer it to another player.
To cash out, simply log in to your PokerStars account, click on 'Cashier', and then click on 'Cash Out'. You will then see your available cashout methods, and can select the one that is appropriate for you. If you encounter difficulties, please contact paymentservices@pokerstars.com for direct assistance with your cashout.

What will happen to my tournament tickets and T$?

All pending tournament tickets and T$ balances will be converted to cash and added to your existing balance. This process may take some time to complete, but we plan to complete all conversions by end of day Monday, October 4.

What will happen to my VIP status?

Your VIP status will remain stored. In the event that you move to a another state/country, or Washington's law changes as a result of further court decisions or a change in legislation, your status will be fully restored.
What will happen to my FPPs?

You can purchase any items in the VIP Store until the end of 2010.
By the end of the day on October 1, we will be removing the play-through requirement for all newly purchased VIP Reward Bonuses, so you will be able to purchase cash bonuses based on your VIP status.
Please visit the VIP Store in the PokerStars 'Cashier' window to purchase a cash bonus or other items.

What will happen to real money tournaments that I am currently playing in, or the ones I am already registered in for the future?

You will be allowed to complete any tournaments that you are playing in once the account restriction begins.

We will automatically unregister you from all tournaments that have not started yet.

Can you give me any further information about my account?

We are reviewing other outstanding issues, and will update this page with new information when it becomes available.

Playing on PokerStars:

If I move or I have moved, will I be able to play on PokerStars again?

This restriction only applies to players currently residing in the state of Washington. In the event that you are no longer living in Washington, you are free to play on our site as in the past. However, to do so, you will be required to submit proof that you are actually resident in another location to have your privileges reinstated. Acceptable proof consists of copies of photo identification as well as a recent utility bill showing your new physical address.

Acceptable proof consists of copies of photo identification as well as a recent utility bill showing your new physical address.
Please contact verifications@pokerstars.com to handle this process.

May I play if I ordinarily live outside Washington, but I am visiting Washington?

It is not permitted to play for real money while in the state of Washington. Even if you are simply visiting, you may not play on PokerStars while you are there.

May I play if I ordinarily live in Washington, but I am travelling outside of Washington?

Currently, all accounts registered to a Washington address are blocked from real money play. To remove this block, you must physically reside at a new location outside of Washington on a permanent basis, and be able to prove that you are doing so. This would not be possible to do simply during a visit to another state or country. As such, you are not permitted to play even when travelling outside Washington if you are regularly a resident there.

Can I still play in PokerStars live events?

You are still welcome to play in the PCA or any of our live poker tours. Unfortunately, you will not be able to buy in directly to these events through PokerStars (except with funds that you now have on PokerStars but have not cashed out), as there will be no way for players from Washington to deposit money on our site.

Can I still play for play money?

Yes, players from Washington are free to continue to play for play money on either our .com or our .net site. However, at this time it will not be allowed for Washington residents to participate in freeroll tournaments which have real money prizes.

An important final word:

Is there anything I can do to change the current legal situation in Washington State?

Yes. You can make your feelings regarding the current state of the law in Washington known to your local legislators. We also encourage you to become a member of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) which is a non-profit players' organization with the mission to establish favorable laws that provide poker players with a secure, safe and regulated place to play. To learn more or to join the PPA, visit:

http://www.theppa.org

Contact Support

You can contact support by following this link, or by emailing support@pokerstars.com

Last edited by Rich Muny; 10-11-2010 at 11:14 PM. Reason: Fixed link
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:21 AM   #4
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

the beginning of the end?
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:22 AM   #5
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Interesting side note: Today is the 4-year anniversary of another piece of horrible news for online poker.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:24 AM   #6
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

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Originally Posted by beaster View Post
the beginning of the end?
Probably not. This law passed before we were at our current strength. Since then, we beat back efforts in Mass. and other states.

Hopefully it's the beginning of the end of posts advocating staying quiet with hope that our opponents will go away. We really do have to stand up for ourselves.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:25 AM   #7
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

I hope the people who think we should just sit back and let things go as they have been read this!!!


Keep us posted on what we can do to help our friends in Washington state
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:26 AM   #8
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Sounds a lot like "We heard we can't do illegal stuff and still get a license if that bill becomes a law. So, we decided we should probably stop doing blatantly illegal stuff." Wonder what happens when that carrot goes away. "We heard there's no real shot at a license. Let's be bad guys."
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:28 AM   #9
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Wow, this is terrible news, especially with us DOA on the Federal front for 2010. Sigh.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:29 AM   #10
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Well,

This is quite literally awesome. Now I'm resigned to play on ****ty FTP till they block us WA residents too
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:30 AM   #11
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Id assume FT will soon follow.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:31 AM   #12
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

jesus ****ing christ.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:32 AM   #13
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

This is so depressing, I wish PS gave us a warning so we could consider other options. This is my full time job and I was literally 6,000 vpps from hitting the next milestone.. I don't know how I'm giong to tell my wife.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:32 AM   #14
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

This should end speculation that Stars will serve the US if denied a license as well.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:32 AM   #15
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrMickHead View Post
Sounds a lot like "We heard we can't do illegal stuff and still get a license if that bill becomes a law. So, we decided we should probably stop doing blatantly illegal stuff." Wonder what happens when that carrot goes away. "We heard there's no real shot at a license. Let's be bad guys."
PS has legal opinions showing they are operating legally everywhere they offer services. Unfortunately, as we all know, Washington State's law against online poker was upheld by the state supreme court.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:40 AM   #16
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Guess the state wins this round as if I move thee I will be forced into their ****ty casinos
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:48 AM   #17
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Quote:
Originally Posted by LetsGambool View Post
This should end speculation that Stars will serve the US if denied a license as well.
Why's that? It seems to support the speculation that they will first try to get a license.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheEngineer View Post
PS has legal opinions showing they are operating legally everywhere they offer services. Unfortunately, as we all know, Washington State's law against online poker was upheld by the state supreme court.
I'm no lawyer but it just seems silly to say that the legal opinion is that breaking the law is fine. There was clearly a law being broken. Just because the law may or may not be constitutional doesn't mean the law wasn't on the books before.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:50 AM   #18
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrMickHead View Post
I'm no lawyer but it just seems silly to say that the legal opinion is that breaking the law is fine. There was clearly a law being broken. Just because the law may or may not be constitutional doesn't mean the law wasn't on the books before.
It was not at all clear that states had authority to pass laws banning online poker sites that operate from outside the state. It's still not clear, but PS is reacting to the court decision.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:51 AM   #19
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

right, but smart posters (JP springs to mind) have thought PS wouls serve the US if they applied for and were denied a license.

Matters in the sense that designing the bill to allowenough licensed competition is now more important.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:54 AM   #20
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

sigh
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:11 AM   #21
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

this really sucks for me..

hit a huge downswing and then this??
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:22 AM   #22
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Sad day for people who play poker in WA state. My online poker is over until stars opens up again. This sucks!!!
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:25 AM   #23
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Who is the PPA state director in WA? Is there any hope of getting traction to repeal this law?
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:26 AM   #24
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Rut Ro
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:28 AM   #25
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Quote:
Originally Posted by ginko View Post
this really sucks for me..

hit a huge downswing and then this??
Me too man, my last 3 days that I played were my worst 3 consecutive days ever, the only thing cheering me up was I was only 1.5 days away from hitting the milestone...

Oh man, this is going to be a weird next few days.
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:28 AM   #26
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Wow, this is crazy. Anything on if FTP will follow?

Hopefully this will light a fire under some people's arses to really start fighting back.

Edit: Holy f*ck!!!!!

Last edited by schlucky1; 09-30-2010 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:31 AM   #27
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

I was trying to find a list of states that explicitly ban online gambling but couldn't find one. Could someone post one up for me?
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:32 AM   #28
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Anyone who plays online poker in Washington needs to vote based on the vote putting this law into place in November and needs to call and tell their representative specifically why they arent getting their vote.

Then they need to call their new/existing rep come November and tell them that they are now one issue voters. If the poker law is still on the books when they are up for election, the vote is going to their opponent.

We need to all become one issue poker voters. Its the only way to get anything done.
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:32 AM   #29
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

The status quo cannot hold. We need a poker bill. (BTW, this is far from the worst case scenario. Losing a Wire Act case would be much worse.)
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:37 AM   #30
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Quote:
Originally Posted by LetsGambool View Post
Who is the PPA state director in WA? Is there any hope of getting traction to repeal this law?
Lee Rousso. He's the one who brought the suit against the bill.

PPA sent an alert a couple of days ago to our Washington State members, requesting that they all send a state-specific letter to their lawmakers. I don't know if we can get the law repealed, but we'll certainly be trying.
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:40 AM   #31
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Ah, I didnt realize he was state director for some reason, makes tons of sense.

Sounds like nothing much happening on the repeal front though.

Reaaallly hope I end up moving out there, if I do I guess thats it for me besides playing at a casino once in awhile and looking for news that the PPAhas been successful.
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:42 AM   #32
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Also brings up the problems with litigation.

Was this litigation useful or harmful in hindsight? Does Stars ban players without the Supreme Court decision that seemed to be the impetus for this? Or did it buy Washington players more time? When was the lawsuit filed, and was Stars contacted before the lawsuit?

Good intentions of course, but shows why litigation is risky.
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:59 AM   #33
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Ofc the litigation is harmful for the short-term specifically for us Washington St. residents. Thankfully I don't play on stars that much, but still this is pretty horrible news. I think attempting to fight these laws is definitely worth it long-term for the game of poker.
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:59 AM   #34
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

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Hopefully this will light a fire under some people's arses to really start fighting back.
+1
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:01 PM   #35
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

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Ofc the litigation is harmful for the short-term specifically for us Washington St. residents. Thankfully I don't play on stars that much, but still this is pretty horrible news. I think attempting to fight these laws is definitely worth it long-term for the game of poker.
Fighting back is of course worth it long term, I just think its a useful data point that litigation may not be freeroll.

EDIT: Id be surprised if anyone with any hopes of getting licensed still serves WA after Stars leaves. Think about how a licensing hearing goes if you continued to serve after the largest pokersite determined it violated law to serve the state. Its actually a pretty good litmus test for who is interested in Federal Licensing.
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:05 PM   #36
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

beat
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:09 PM   #37
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

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Originally Posted by LetsGambool View Post
Fighting back is of course worth it long term, I just think its a useful data point that litigation may not be freeroll.
True, litigation is no freeroll. As we saw, it validates and sometimes expands the scope of the laws in question. Additionally, asking courts to overturn laws passed by the elected representatives of the people is always challenging.
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:09 PM   #38
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

This is bad news but if it sparks some complacent poker players to now jump on board and start firing off emails to politicians then we can squeeze something positive out of this. Engineer--apart from emailing my representatives and getting my friends to do the same what if anything can I do to help more?

Fight on,

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Old 09-30-2010, 12:11 PM   #39
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

PS has no choice if it wants to ever get a license to serve US citizens if a federal license is ever enacted. If it became clear and certain that a US license would never be enacted, then PS would likely decide to violate US law and serve US citizens. If CA enacts some law banning PS and federal licensing legislation is in its present state, then PS's reaction will be interesting. My guess is that FTP and Cake will follow suit, but not Cereus.

Mr. Rousso is appealing to SCOTUS. IMO, this appeal will be granted, but will take about 2 years. IMO, SCOTUS will reverse this awful decision. I don't know why Mr. Rousso didn't file his suit in federal court in the first place.

This ruling will harm WA residents while it is appealed. Maybe it will wake up some online poker players to the fact that more freedom is being lost in the US every day and the courts often do not protect freedom. In fact, court decisions have taken more freedom from US citizens than legislation.

Still, actions like this show that despite litigation being a crap shoot, the PPA should undertake it if no federal licensing bill is passed this year (which seems more unlikely by the day).
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:18 PM   #40
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

For those in the Evergreen State I suspect getting the law overturned is a longshot. You will need a new governor (since Gregoire supports it), and many new legislators. The best chance--though still likely a difficult fight--is an initiative. It would take a lot of signature (241,153) to get it on the ballot, but that's still probably the best way to get the law repealed.

As for Stars, the decision makes sense. I doubt that Stars fears a prosecution by state prosecutors; however, the combination of a valid state prohibition and the UIGEA likely caused Stars' reaction.

The only long-term solution in the US is legislation. As the Engineer and Skall have said on numerous occasions, the status quo is unstable and will not last. For those who want to go back to the Party days of 2006, we can't. For those who want to have things stay the way they are, they won't.

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Old 09-30-2010, 12:19 PM   #41
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

As I often tell my clients, litigation is often all or nothing. Winning all these cases would produce a very favorable environment for online poker, more favorable than a bill would. But losing would make things far worse.

In contrast, legislation offers certainty.
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:19 PM   #42
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

depressing
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:20 PM   #43
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

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PS has no choice if it wants to ever get a license to serve US citizens if a federal license is ever enacted. If it became clear and certain that a US license would never be enacted, then PS would likely decide to violate US law and serve US citizens.
I disagree here 100%. Pokerstars has never shown any indication that they would ever operate in any jurisdiction unlawfully. I don't know why you would disregard all of their press releases and all of their prior actions and believe they would become a rogue operator in the future if they were denied a federal license. Further, over 50% of their business is outside of the United States, so they are better positioned than any other company to just serve non-U.S. residents.
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:21 PM   #44
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Email sent....Worried
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:23 PM   #45
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

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As I often tell my clients, litigation is often all or nothing. Winning all these cases would produce a very favorable environment for online poker, more favorable than a bill would. But losing would make things far worse.

In contrast, legislation offers certainty.
I agree, but legislation is unlikely anytime soon. Also, in the case of online poker, losing the litigation would place it in the same status as online sports betting. This means transactions by paper check on sites willing to violate US law like Bodog and Cereus. OTOH, we are slowly heading in that direction anyway.

Thus, IMO, if federal licensing is not enacted this year (fingers and toes crossed for two outer), then litigation is the only alternative.
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:27 PM   #46
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Quote:
Originally Posted by dangerfish View Post
This is bad news but if it sparks some complacent poker players to now jump on board and start firing off emails to politicians then we can squeeze something positive out of this. Engineer--apart from emailing my representatives and getting my friends to do the same what if anything can I do to help more?

Fight on,

DF
Here are some things we can do:
  • Join PPA as a paid member
  • Contribute to the PPA PAC
  • Call your elected representatives
  • Visit your elected representatives, either in D.C. or at their local offices
  • Volunteer for pro-poker political candidates
  • Write to newspapers and post comments on various blogs and online news sites
  • Write pro-poker op-eds and columns
Rich Muny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-30-2010, 12:42 PM   #47
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

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Originally Posted by TheEngineer View Post
Lee Rousso. He's the one who brought the suit against the bill.

PPA sent an alert a couple of days ago to our Washington State members, requesting that they all send a state-specific letter to their lawmakers. I don't know if we can get the law repealed, but we'll certainly be trying.
Wasn't this fallout anticipated and/or planned for? If not, why was the case brought in the first instance instead of, for example, waiting for a prosecution under the statute?
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:45 PM   #48
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

As a Washington state resident, I am pissed as hell! There are dozens of card rooms and casinos within a 20 mile radius of my house where the state is content to let me play legally, so the ban is not based on some misguided idea that playing poker is "immoral." It's based on the venality of our politicians who take money from the people who run the brick-and-mortar card rooms and casinos and enact the legislation that they want.

Unfortunately, we don't have the numbers to exert political pressure to change the law, but we do have a big stick to wield, although it involves sacrifice. I think the most effective way to fight this would actually be for Washington poker players to boycott card rooms and casinos. We don't play any poker in physical locations in the state until the ban is repealed. When the operators of the brick-and-mortar locations see their tables sitting idle, it will pressure them to use their influence with legislators to overturn the law.

That's my two cents' worth. If it makes sense to you, spread the word.
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:48 PM   #49
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmk-one View Post
Wasn't this fallout anticipated and/or planned for? If not, why was the case brought in the first instance instead of, for example, waiting for a prosecution under the statute?
I suspect that the case bought us time. With a law against online poker and no legal challenge, it seems PS would have had to leave at that time.
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:55 PM   #50
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Re: PokerStars to Stop Serving Washington State Residents

I too am a WA state resident, and it saddens me to see this day come. I think the boycott is a solid idea...its obvious why we have things the way we do here. Anyone wanna speculate on how long until FTP follows? I will support the PPA and contact my representatives until we have some progress. Sad indeed. The nanny state is here in my state.

Anyone down for home games in WA? PM me.
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