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Washington State Orders Online Gambling Survey

By: Adam Baker, Tuesday April 26th 2016
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Washington State presently has the most draconian anti online gambling laws in the United States. But this may change in the future. The state has taken the first step in the process of legalization and regulation of online gambling.

The Washington State Gambling Commission has ordered the first ever economic market study on gambling in the state. The award has gone to the New Jersey based market survey company Spectrum Gaming Group. A press statement from the Commission informed that Spectrum has been working in the field since the 1980s and has the relevant experience. The company has conducted similar studies on gambling in other states like Florida and Connecticut. The Chairperson of the Commission Chris Stearns explained the purpose of this survey. He said, “The results of this study will be a powerful economic tool for the state and tribes that will allow us to build on our success and help the state, businesses, tribes, and citizens guide economic growth with investment and with our values.”

Stearns outlined the specific tasks that Spectrum has been asked to look into. Foremost is outlining the existing gaming market, with the exception of lottery and horse racing, in Washington State and forecasting the potential growth. Spectrum will also measure the economic impacts in Washington State for commercial, non-profit, and Tribal gaming. Some of the points of consideration include employment, fantasy sports, gambling facilities, gambling trends, Internet gambling, introduction of new gambling activities, mobile games, population trends, revenues, technology impacts, and tourism effects. The results of the survey will be presented only in the third quarter of 2016.

Washington State has not acted against online gamblers, but the provisions in the law make the activity a crime. Penalties for Internet gambling range from a gross misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the factual circumstances and could carry an imprisonment sentence. In 2013 an attempt was made to nullify the anti-online gambling laws and legalize the activity. If that could not be done, the proposal sought to decriminalize online gambling or lessen the penalties. Unfortunately the attempt failed to clear the legislative hurdles.

As things stand in America today, three states have legalized some forms of online gambling. Nevada was the first to do so in 2011. Delaware in 2012 and New Jersey in 2013 followed suit. Though more than a dozen states have put tentative steps forward since then, there has been no fruitful outcome.

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