In breaking news, Full Tilt Poker announced that it will no longer accept real money action from players in Washington State. The announcement follows a similar decision from PokerStars six weeks ago.
In an FAQ posted on its website, Full Tilt officials explained, “Due to recent legal developments, Full Tilt Poker has announced it will no longer provide real money games to players located within Washington State.” A law in the Northwest state makes playing online poker a Class C felony. Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Washington State Director Lee Rousso filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statute, but the state’s Supreme Court upheld it in a September decision.
Washington residents will be permitted to play on Full Tilt if they’re outside of the Northwest State. Similarly, residents from jurisdictions other than Washington will not be allowed to fire up the virtual felts of Full Tilt for real money while they’re in the state. Affected players will be permitted to withdraw their balances from the world’s second largest online poker site. The law in Washington took shape in 2006 prior to the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
For those players who still have tournament tickets and Tournament Dollars on Full Tilt, poker room officials explained the redemption process: “If you have any unused tournament tickets and T$ that you would like to convert to cash prior to withdrawal, please contact email@example.com. Please note that you must provide proof of Washington State residency.” Full Tilt Points can still be redeemed in the Store and Black Card members can continue to grab items from the Black Card Store. The only caveat for Washington State players is that cash bonuses and tournament tickets won’t be available for purchase.
If the law in Washington were to change by virtue of the state’s legislature passing a pro-internet gambling bill, then Black Card members can be reinstated for 100 days. In the meantime, in addition to being unable to participate in real money cash games on Full Tilt, players from the Evergreen State won’t be able to enter for-money tournaments like the Sunday Brawl and $750,000 Guaranteed.
To un-register from a tournament, click on the “Requests” menu and then select “Registered in Tournaments.” Full Tilt Poker won’t allow Washington State players to participate in upcoming tournaments even if they are already registered for them. However, the site will still keep its doors open for play money games on its dot-com and dot-net portals. In addition, freerolls will remain open for Washington State residents to enter.
Among those reacting to Full Tilt’s decision on Friday was Washington pro Matt Affleck, whose rotating sports jerseys for Seattle sports teams were featured heavily on ESPN’s broadcast of the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. Affleck Tweeted, “Sigh, Full Tilt Poker follows Stars’ lead and bans Washington State players… No idea what I’m going to do now.” Affleck finished 15th in the Main Event this year after suffering a bad beat at the hands of eventual winner Jonathan Duhamel. Last year, he took 80th.
Rousso argued that the statute making playing online poker a Class C felony violated the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. However, the Washington State Supreme Court argued that the law affected in-state and out-of-state internet gambling outfits equally and therefore did not trample on the Constitution. Rousso plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Watching the situation with a keen eye is UB.com’s Paul Leggett, who told Poker News Daily, “We are reviewing the situation and will make a decision shortly based on a full and considered understanding of our legal advice.”
Also weighing in on Full Tilt’s blocking of real money wagers from Washington State was Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Board Member Rich Muny, who told Poker News Daily on Friday, “We’re all saddened for players to lose access to a site. It’s important to keep in mind that laws do have consequences and we’re here fighting for our rights at the local and state levels. Players can count on the PPA being in Washington State during the next legislative session to repeal this egregious law.”