Citing the need for the implementation of precautionary measures, PokerStars will no longer offer free online poker to Washington state residents. This was officially confirmed last Wednesday when the Washington State Gambling Commission announced that a number of social gaming websites, PokerStars included, “have proactively made the business decision to deny Washington residents access to their sites.”
This particular move follows on from a United States federal appeals court decision, which ruled that social casino games are considered to be illegal under existing gambling laws in the State of Washington. A fortnight ago, the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals overturned an earlier ruling by a district court that had junked 2015 against Churchill Downs Inc.
The lawsuit that was junked out sough to recover from Big Fish Games, which was previously owned by Churchill Downs Inc., virtual casino chips worth over $1,000 – the complainant argued that the chips represented “something of value” as stipulated by Washington state gambling laws.
PokerStars Precautionary Response
The company spokesperson of PokerStars commented on the matter in order to clarify the issue at hand. As you may suspect, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that free-to-play games violated Washington state gambling regulation had pretty much everything to do it.
“As a result [of the ruling], The Stars Group is immediately taking actions to block play related to social gaming from Washington State. We are reviewing the rulings and ensuring that our activities are in line with state regulations. We are hopeful the law will be clarified and that when it is, we will be able to reinstate all Washington players at their current status,” the spokesperson said in a statement delivered to USPoker.
The company is rather confident in the move they made since it falls in line with the jurisdiction review policy on its website. The PokerStars management and independent 3rd party professionals regularly review the company’s operations in order to assess the business opportunities and risks for the company’s brands on a market-by-market analysis.
The Washington State Gambling Commission also responded on PokerStars move to block access to free online poker stating that:
“We are not a party to the civil court case, we did not testify in the case, and we did not order these sites to discontinue free online play for Washington residents. Customers with concerns should contact these websites directly.”
However, the decision by the PokerStars management to stop offering free online poker in Washington is an arguably smart move especially because it assures the market that everything is being put into consideration. PokerStars has had a few misfortunes in the past after being a labelled a ‘bad actor’ because it allowed citizens to play online poker on its site after Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was passed. Since then, the company has been very diligent in its dealings with the United States gambling market.
Pennsylvania’s online gaming market is also nearing its official launch and PokerStars has its sights set on being “among the first operators to launch.” This is, however, this is just the beginning since the online poker operator also has an eye on expanding to other parts of the U.S.