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WASHINGTON COURT RULES AGAINST BETCHA.COM

Long-running dispute over legality of an innovative concept

Nicholas Jenkins, the feisty lawyer and internet entrepreneur who has fought the Washington state government through the courts in defending his Betcha.com concept  may have come to the end of the road.

This week the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the founder of Betcha.com’s unique proposition that betting was not gambling because losing players were not compelled to pay up still constituted illegal gambling.

In a unanimous ruling, the court defined Betcha.com as an illegal bookie because it arranged bets and took a percentage of the action as a fee, reports Associated Press.

The Bench said it did not have to decide whether optional payments by bettors would allow Betcha.com to technically escape the state's gambling restrictions.

"Under the statutory definition of bookmaking, it is immaterial whether or not Betcha users were engaged in gambling activity," Justice Tom Chambers wrote for the court.

With typical irreverence and humour, Jenkins wrote on his blog that the court's reasoning "didn't pass the giggle test."

"Never in a million years did I expect an opinion like this one," Jenkins wrote. "The court's error is so obvious that I wonder if a single justice even cracked our brief, let alone the Revised Code of Washington."

Washington state allows some forms of non-tribal gambling, including cardrooms that offer poker, blackjack and other games with relatively low stakes. Online gambling and bookmaking fees, however, are specifically outlawed in the state, with draconian criminal penalties for operators and players.

Betcha.com allowed users to wager on just about anything  - from sporting events, to political contests, to whether the moon would be full on a given night. Users couldn't bet more than $1,000 at any one time.

Anyone wanting to offer or accept a bet had to transfer money into an account to back any losses, with the money held in escrow by Betcha.com. The company charged fees for offering or accepting bets, for proposing counteroffers, or for premium placement on the site.

Bettors would submit claims after the event in question, but the losing bettor always had 72 hours to opt out of paying the debt. Failing to pay bets could negatively affect a user's reputation on the site, which was tracked with a number representing their "honor rating."

The state Supreme Court ruling overturned an earlier state appeals court decision that Betcha.com hadn't engaged in gambling. Its decision affirmed the company possessed gambling records, a gross misdemeanor, and transmitted gambling information over the Internet, a lower-level felony.

The case is No. 82845-8, Internet Community and Entertainment Corp. v. State.

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Is Gibraltar Out of Luck in US Tax Challenge - Gibraltar's challenge to the UK 15 percent point-of-consumption tax on online gambling operator revenues has already failed in the UK High Court, and it looks as if it may be rejected by the European Court of Justice too.

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UCypher Launches - Indian entertainment and media entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala has announced the formation of UCypher, an eSports tournament in which ten teams will compete.

Extreme Live Gaming In deal With Betsson - Extreme Live Gaming, a subsidiary of the Novomatic Interactive group, has announced a live dealer product deal with the Betsson online gambling group, with an initial launch planned for Betsson.com, followed by other brands in the Swedish group's portfolio.

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Safecharge Q4-2016 - Online e-cash processing firm Safecharge, where Playtech's Teddy Sagi is a majority shareholder, released a trading update on its Q4-2016 performance Thursday, flagging record transaction processing volumes and revenues.

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Yggdrasi To Enter Italian Gambling Market - Yggdrasilís Italian offering will include the company's collection of in-game promotional tools, BOOST, improving gamification, and the social sharing tool, BRAG. The companyís mobile product will also be available on its HTML5 iSense 2 platform.

888sport is the latest to join sports betting integrity body ESSA - Major operator 888sport is the latest to join sports betting integrity body ESSA with the company adding its customer base and betting market platforms to ESSAís global anti-fraud alert and reporting system.

First partypoker live event to be held in Russia - Partypokerís new live tour will kick off in Russia on March 24, 2017 at Sochi Casino and Resort in association with Club Poker Management. Online Day 1ís will start on partypoker on March 12, 2017.

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