Draconian Enforcement Planned for Washington State’s New Law

by Lou on June 20, 2006

I’ve reported about Washington State’s new poker law on this blog, but here’s a new and frighteningly ominous wrinkle. In his blog, Earl Burton referenced an article in the Seattle Times by Danny Westneat, reporting about a poker information site that provides information about poker rooms on the web. The site’s owner, Todd Boutte, was concerned about the new law but figured he’d be OK because he was just talking about poker sites; he wasn’t taking any wagers.

Is Writing About Poker a Violation of the Law?
But despite his constitutional rights to free speech, the State of Washington considers his site the same as if it was a wagering site. Boutte could face a Class C felony in Washington, and he has shut down his site as a result. Washington’s gambling commissioner, Rick Day, also advised Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat to advise his paper to quit publishing the Daniel Negreanu’s poker column too, and stated that the commission plans to hire an investigator to enforce the new state law.

Does the State of Washington Plan to Walk All Over the First Amendment?
It appears that Washington’s law is undergoing an expansion in scope by the watchdog groups in charge of enforcement, because now they intend to go after those that write and otherwise communicate about poker too.

How About a Test Case?
So many first amendment rights appear to be trampled by Washington’s law, that it’s time for a test case. Right now, early on, before the Washington gambling commission and Rick Day are able to extrapolate this law’s meaning far beyond its legislative intent.

While the Washington state law is a bad one, the enforcement practices of the state’s gambling commission seem hell bent on making it draconian too.

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