Proposed legislation in WA State raises concerns . . .
A bill was introduced by Rep. Paul Harris (R-Vancouver) (HB1824) that would change the act of playing internet poker from a criminal Class C felony to a civil penalty, carrying a $50 fine.
On the face of it, it may seem like a beneficial move. But it does raise some questions. To date, no player has ever been charged under the felony prohibition on internet gambling. The Washington State Gambling Commission makes it clear that they are not targeting players, but that players "risk a felony conviction." This sounds scary, but really has no teeth. Can you imagine the press that a felony jury trial of a .02/.04 microstakes player would generate?? I am confident that prosecutors in this State can imagine, and probably have.
But a civil infraction is a far different beast. For one thing, the burden of proof is far different. The State need only demonstrate that it is likely a player committed the infraction. And most internet poker players leave a trail across the web like banana slug. And with the penalty being only $50, it would be far cheaper to just pay the fine than it would to fight it.
So it begs the question, why would you bother changing the penalty to one that is easier to enforce, and harder and cost prohibitive to defend against?? Seems to me that this is a way for the State of WA to actually go after players, and if we were to support this measure, we would be giving up a harsh penalty that is not applied for a soft penalty that is applied.
Be careful what you wish for, and beware of Greeks bearing gifts!