We had a great time down in Olympia. The State Supreme Court was just like the US one, with nine Justices firing questions at the attorneys for an hour. I think the State's case rests on the Court deciding that non-economic interests dominate the ban on Internet gambling. To do that, I think the legislators would have to have had a reasonable belief that Internet gambling could not be regulated in such a way as to make it as safe as the gambling allowed in the state, which is pretty much everything.
I can't see any reasonable way to believe that. All kinds of commerce takes place over the Internet and regulations are working fine. As Justice Johnson pointed out, his daughter could just as easily squander money buying shoes from Nordstrom.com as playing online poker. Washington could easily require gambling sites to require age and identity verification that would work better than brick-and-mortar casinos.
When I took a seat in the third row for the hearing, I accidentally took the seat of Attorney General Rob McKenna, not realizing his notebook was leaning up against the armrest. He graciously sat next to me. After the hearing I said, "Pretty interesting case." He mulled it over. I said, "I am so sick of hearing 'crack cocaine of gambling.' " He smiled. His job is just to represent the law, but I can't think there's much political will behind keeping people from playing online poker.
If you'd like to follow the case, go here : http://templeofjustice.org/2010/rousso-v-state/
June 1, 2010
More on the Washington State Supreme Court case
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By far the most cogent and thorough analysis I've seen of the legal merits of the case (setting aside the broader public policy questions) is found
He persuades me that, though we might wish otherwise, Rousso is drawing very, very thin.
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