GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 8 - April 2009

| GPWA Times Court says Betcha.com is not gambling Webmaster News “[This recession] is different from previous recessions. The conventional wisdom is that people gamble more when they get more desperate, but that is not happening this time.” — Problem Gambling Foundation Chief Executive Graeme Ramsey “(Poker) is truly international, and the time is right for the International Team Poker League to take poker to a new level and a wider audience.” — TV personality Montel Williams (above with wife Tara Fowler), who has devised a realty TV show based on Texas Hold’em. Nick Jenkins, the founder of a person-to-per- son Internet betting exchange called Betcha. com, scored a huge victory in February when a Washington state appeals court ruled 2-1 that his site was not a gambling operation. The ruling overturned a 2007 decision by a lower court that said Betcha.com’s activities amounted to professional gambling. “Because Betcha.com customers agreed in advance that participants were not required to pay their losses, Betcha.com was not en- gaged in ‘gambling’ as defined in the Gam- bling Act,” wrote Judge C.C. Bridgewater in the majority opinion. “Also, the listing of bets for a fee was not ‘bookmaking’ because book- making rests upon Betcha.com engaging in ‘gambling.’” The judge also wrote that since users of the Web site were required to “acknowledge and agree” that all bets made on the site were “non-binding,” bettors could not have an un- derstanding that they would “receive some- thing of value” if they won. “Accordingly,” the ruling read, “there is nothing risked, which is the essence of both the common law and statutory definition of ‘gambling.’” Judge David Armstrong concurred with the majority opinion, while Judge ElaineHough- ton wrote the dissent. Houghton’s dissent was unusual in that she indicated that the majority opinion was the type of ruling she would typically favor. “I respectfully dissent from my colleagues’ decision that allows Betcha.com to operate as it intends,” Houghton writes. “And al- though, in my usual judicial course, I follow the majority’s cited statutory construction principles, I cannot do so here.” Jenkins launched the patent-pending Betcha.com in June of 2007 as the “world’s first honor-based betting exchange.” The site allowed users to register, provide a credit card num- ber and open an account. They would then find other users inter- ested in wagering with each other on anything – including sports, politics or even the weather. Bet- tors, however, werenot obligated to pay when they lost. Betcha.com charged fees for placing bets based on how much money was being wa- gered. It was Jenkins’s claim that since nobody from Bet- cha.comactuallyacceptedrealmoney bets and the bets were “non-binding,” the operation was legal. But the Washington State Gambling Commission disagreed. In July of 2007, Jenkins’s office in Seattle was raided and agents warned Jenkins to shut down his site. Jenkins responded by filing a law- suit against the WSGC hoping to receive a court order saying the site was legal. The next month, Jenkins and two of his employees – Josie M. Imlay, 24, and Pe- ter M. Abrahamsen, 25 – were charged with breaking Internet gambling laws in the state of Louisiana after a Louisiana state trooper, acting with the Washington State Gambling Commission, accepted four bets. In October, Jenkins and his two employees surrendered and voluntarily flew to Louisi- ana where they were charged and booked for illegal gambling by computer. Jenkins spent four days in jail before working out a deal with prosecutors to drop the case if he complied with certain conditions. “Somebody’s probably going to go broke. That’s a lot of money, and a lot of time.” — Poker pro Phil Ivey in discussing Tom “durrr” Dwan’s (right) $1 million challenge.

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