Washington State Supreme court upholds gambling ban

This morning, two lower state courts and the Washington State Supreme court unanimously shot down a challenge to the state ban on internet gambling. Seattle lawyer Lee Rousso challenged the state law on the grounds that it violated a part of the federal commerce clause governing interstate business, claiming that the state law put an impermissible burden on interstate and international commerce.

From the industry perspective, the ruling is disappointing, but not at all surprising. Taken from the ruling itself, Justice Richard Sanders said:

The question before this court is not whether Internet gambling, including playing poker on-line, should be illegal. That determination is reserved to the legislature, and the legislature addressed the issue by enacting and amending RCW 9.46.240, which criminalizes the knowing transmission and reception of gambling information by various means, including use of the Internet. Since sending and receiving gambling information is illegal, Internet gambling in the state of Washington is effectively banned.1 It is not the role of the judiciary to second-guess the wisdom of the legislature, which enacted this ban. The court has no authority to conduct its own balancing of the pros and cons stemming from banning, regulating, or openly permitting Internet gambling.

Isn’t it interesting how the court has no authority to conduct its own balancing of the pros and cons, but has the latitude to decisively decide that poker is a game of chance and thus constitutes online gambling?

The judge rejected any arguments that the law favors in state brick and mortar casino gambling and noted that the ban affects all business’s ability to transmit bets electronically, of course excluding horseracing which inexplicably operates under a different set of rules. Again, no one should be surprised about this ruling, reason has long since been banned in courts of justice in Washington State.