Hopes that the state of Washington may be dissuaded from its policy of imposing excessive Felony C punishments on any of its citizens caught gambling online faded this week with the failure of lawyer Lee Roussos's challenge to the law in a King County Court (see previous InfoPowa reports)
While the judge ruled that Rousso had legal standing to bring the suit forward, something he fought 10 months for, she said his challenge did not satisfy the narrow standard to invalidate the law.
But the gutsy lawyer and local Poker Players Alliance director may make one more attempt to bring some sense to the issue, hinting at further action when he told reporters from the Seattle Post that the issue will ultimately be decided by the US Supreme Court.
The punitive measures attached to the anti-online gambling law by Washington state legislators equate to those reserved for child molesters and repeat drunk driving offenders, and have been widely criticised as disproportionate and inequitable in a state that approves most other forms of gambling.
"The state loves gambling, it's a gigantic business. It's just the state protecting its turf," Rousso claimed after the hearing, referring to the state-sponsored lottery, Indian casinos and horse racing approved by the state.
Rousso had argued that the 2006 law violates the commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution and is cruel and unusual punishment.
Following his day in court, he relayed Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts' decision rejecting his challenge to some 70 red shirted poker fans who had gathered at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in support of Roussos's case in a placard demonstration.
"That's just the way the game is played," Rousso told the Seattle Post. "The court of law is probably the biggest casino there is. There is virtually no public support for this law."
Poker ace Barry Greenstein was at the courthouse in solidarity with Rousso, and commented on the fact that Washington is the only state that prohibits online betting of any type by its residents.
"The politicians are dictating what you can do in the privacy of your own home. It makes it look like a pretty backward place," he said.
Rousso addressed a pointed rhetorical question to Washington legislators: "Do you really want to throw people in prison who want to play poker?" he asked.
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