Lee Rousso, the feisty lawyer who represents the Poker Players Alliance in Washington state, will have his organisation's support next Thursday, when he at last gets his day in court to challenge tough state laws on online gambling.
After many months of mainly state inspired delays on legal technicalities which demanded seperate court arguments, Rousso will face off against the state on its online gambling ban, protesting at punishments in the C-class felony category that seem to equate online gambling with heinous crimes such as torturing animals, possessing child pornography or threatening the governor.
The case will be heard in King County Superior Court in Kent, Washington, May 15 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (Pacific Time) and the PPA is planning a rally outside the court at which top poker aces Barry Greenstein and Andy Bloch will appear to show solidarity with Rousso in his challenge to the constitutionality of Washington's online gambling ban.
Rousso claims that Washington state's ban fails to comply with the US federal Wire Act, which does not make online gamblers liable for prosecution, whereas the Washington law makes it a serious offence to gamble online. He is also arguing that the state imposed its ban to protect its own interests in the many and diverse land gambling activities approved by the state, claiming that such protectionism is in violation of the US Constitution's commerce clause, which forbids individual state legalization of this nature.
The Washington state ban was highlighted this week by the respected Card Player magazine, which conducted an excellent interview with Dino Rossi, currently a candidate seeking to unseat Washington state governor Christine Gregoire in forthcoming elections.
Answering a question on the draconian nature of the penalties laid down for Washington residents caught gambling online, Rossi said he would not have supported such harsh punishment, and commented:
"Well, it seems really excessive in the penalties they put forward, because if you really look at this, what they’ve done is that they’ve made it a felony. And it would clearly ruin someone’s life if they have a felony – it’s up to five years in prison.
"And if you want look at which other crimes are basically equal in nature in the eyes of the law now that this law is passed, it’s the same types of penalties for possessing child pornography, threatening the governor, or torturing an animal.
"I mean, in our state, you could have five DUIs before you can even serve time. You could steal nine cars in our state before actually getting any jail time. But, somehow, playing poker online rises to that level."
Rossi narrowly missed defeating Gregoire in 2004, and may have more success this time around.
In the meantime, online gamblers who would like to support Rousso in his action will find the court at the Maleng Regional Justice Center, 401 – 4th Avenue North in Kent, Washington.
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