Lawyer and poker aficionado Lee Rousso has filed suit in
King County Superior Court in an effort to overturn the State’s ban on Internet
gambling. The American
attorney is taking legal action claiming that the online wagering ban infringes
the US Constitution’s protections of interstate trade.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement
Act (UIGEA) was passed in October and prohibits American banks and credit card
companies from processing payments to online gambling businesses outside the
country. The State ban was passed by lawmakers with much
support and went into effect in June of 2006. It extended an earlier embargo on
gambling by telephones or telegraphs and increased the crime from a gross
misdemeanour to a felony.
No one has yet been prosecuted under the ban but Rousso's Seattle-based lawsuit
argues that the law unfairly protects the in-State gambling industry, including
card rooms and casinos. He stated that if unsuccessful, he would push for
another change in State law to make Internet poker legal again. Internet
gambling also is prohibited under Federal law and this has sparked international
trade squabbles with nations housing online gambling operations.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in December that
UIGEA unfairly targets offshore casinos and told US officials that America could
keep restrictions against sport betting in place if these were also applied to
American businesses, such as operators of remote horse betting.