By Nathan Carroll, Rakeback.com Staff Writer
Full Tilt Poker has recently declared that residents of Washington state are no longer allowed to play real money poker on the site.
Though devastating to professionals and enthusiastic amateurs alike, the move can hardly be seen as a surprise. The death knell for internet gambling in Washington sounded back in September when the state's Supreme Court rendered a verdict which declared online poker to be a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
PokerStars acted quickly in the wake of the decision, banning Washingtonians from their site in the early days of October. There was speculation at the time over whether or not FTP would follow suit or risk prosecution by continuing to serve the eager residents of the state. With each day that passed, it seemed like FTP had chosen to go down that second path--but now, more than a month later, they're finally closing the door.
An FAQ on FTP's website clarifies that the ban is meant to be geographical rather than residential; that is, online poker is unequivocally not allowed within the states borders regardless of a player's state or country of origin, while Washington residents are likewise allowed to play to their hearts' content when they happen to be anywhere other than at home.
Like PokerStars, FTP has decided to forgo actually closing any accounts, and is instead allowing the players affected to maintain an uneasy stasis wherein their account balance remains untouched and their black card or ironman status waits patiently to be reinstated in the event of an out-of-state move or overruling legislation.
Some players have been savvy enough to get around the ban altogether by using a proxy internet connection. Sites like Witopia allow players to sign up and for a yearly fee of $59.99 they can change their IP address to anywhere in the world. This fools the servers in to allowing users to play poker while still residing in Washington.
Regarding that unknown future of online poker in America, and the rather slapdash nature of the legislation currently in place at state and federal levels, FTP is encouraging its customers to be proactive. They end their FAQ by giving a shoutout to the Poker Players Alliance, a non-profit advocacy group fighting for rights on behalf of poker players across the country. Hopefully the PPA will be able to leverage a significant increase in outrage (at least in one corner of the country) into a healthy legislative climate for online poker.
In the meantime, Cake Poker, Bodog, and UltimateBet, among others, continue to offer real money games to Washington residents.
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