A multi-year battle by Lee Russo against Washington State laws that make playing poker online a felony appears to have come to an end.
That’s the word from The Poker Player’s Alliance, which announced in a statement today that Russo will not be appealing the latest ruling in the matter.
For those unfamiliar: In 2006, the State of Washington passed a law that (among other things) made it a felony for Washington residents to play poker online for real money. Lee Russo, lawyer and state director for the Washington PPA, challenged the law on constitutional grounds.
That challenge touched off a series of legal back-and-forths that culminated in a hearing before the Washington State Supreme Court.
The result of that hearing came in September 2010: a setback for Russo (and for poker players everywhere) when the Court rejected Russo’s argument and found that the law did not violate the commerce clause of the US Constitution.
Following the State Supreme Court ruling, both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker stopped servicing players from Washington State. The rooms took slightly different angles on the issue; Stars blocked all residents of Washington State, while Full Tilt only prevents players from accessing the room when they are physically located in the State of Washington.
Other rooms such as Bodog and Carbon Poker continue to offer access to Washington players.
With the defeat at the highest available state level, Russo has left with only federal options for appeal, options he and the PPA ultimately decided weren’t worth the fight. From the PPA statement:
“Lee Rousso and the Poker Players Alliance, after long and careful consideration, have decided to not seek review of Rousso v. Washington in the United States Supreme Court. Given the procedural posture of the case and the state Supreme Court’s decision having been made without benefit of a full factual record, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review this decision does not provide the kind of opportunity that this issue truly deserves. Both Mr. Rousso and the PPA are instead working on alternative strategies for continuing to press the issues raised by the case. “
To the best of our knowledge, there have been no convictions for playing online poker in the State of Washington to date.