Following the announcement that PokerStars is to pull out of Washington State, a number of top online poker “names” are considering how best to react.
Whereas relatively unknown players can utilise “Virtual Private Networks” to make it appear that they are playing from outside the State, top figures in the game, such as Yevgeniy “Jovial Gent” Timosheno – winner of the WCOOP Main Event in 2009 – may not find it find it so easy to hide and may have to forgo his PokerStars sponsorship.
Inasmuch as players in the State can continue to log on to Full Tilt Poker and UB.com for the present, it is only a question of time until these companies also feel compelled to comply with Washington legislation or risk forced closure – possibly affecting their operations in other States.
The State of Oregon – immediately to the South – is anticipated to follow Washington´s lead in making online poker a felony, but the spread of this ridiculous legislation is not expected to affect neighbouring Nevada.
The full text of the PokerStars press release is as follows:-
30 September 2010 – PokerStars today announced that it would cease providing real-money poker to residents of Washington State. To date, PokerStars has operated in Washington on the basis of legal opinions where the central advice was that the state could not constitutionally regulate Internet poker, or at least could not discriminate in favor of local cardrooms and against online sites. Last week, however, the Washington Supreme Court for the first time rejected that position and upheld the state’s Internet gaming prohibition.
In light of this decision, following extensive consultation with our legal advisors, we believe that the right course of action is to now block real money play by Washington residents on the PokerStars.com site. This policy will remain in effect until the law changes or subsequent legal challenges succeed. Our decision to block real money play in Washington does not affect the balance of funds in customer accounts, which remain completely safe. Our payment services team continues to be available to Washington State residents to assist with cashout requests.
We regret this decision, which will no doubt disappoint our customers in Washington State. However, in all of the jurisdictions where we operate, we are committed to making responsible decisions that are based on a full and considered understanding of the most up-to-date legal advice.
PokerStars remains supportive of passing sensible Internet poker regulation in the United States that will provide much-needed tax revenues and formalize consumer protections. PokerStars operates under those conditions, complying with rigorous licensing regimes, for its worldwide operations in the Isle of Man (UK), and for local operations in Italy, France and Estonia.