High School Teacher Testifies for Online Poker in Washington State Hearing
Washington State’s Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee heard testimony on online poker in a hearing despite the fact that there is no proposal to legalize online poker before its legislature. Some of the most colorful testimony came from a former online player and math teacher who testified that online poker is a game of skill and he has violated Washington’s ban on online gambling.
High school math teacher David Shick gained some headlines by testifying to the Washington State Senate’s Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee that he has violated the state’s ban on online poker play.
“I realized that the state law was just an absolute joke,” he told the Senate committee according to a report from Geekwire.com. “Nobody was being arrested. And so here I am admitting that I’m a Class C felon. If that means I’m going to be arrested, I guess I could be the first one.”
The committee took testimony even though Washington’s Legislature is not currently considering legislation to allow online poker.
Shick said he played online poker from 2003 to 2006 until it became illegal in Washington state. He also started played again for a brief time in 2009, he testified.
“I’m here to tell you, first of all, this is absolutely a game of skill,” Shick testified. “It was absolutely secure, and it was safe.”
The hearing also included testimony from Ernie Stebbins, executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, which $255 million in taxes to the state last year.
“The committee should consider looking at the benefits of the gaming that’s going on in the state of Washington today, as opposed to looking at new forms of gaming that’s currently illegal,” Stebbins said according to Geekwire’s report.
John Pappas, executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Poker Players Alliance also addressed the hearing by telephone.
“Thousands of Washingtonians already gamble on offshore sites that provide absolutely no local oversight or protection,” Pappas said. “However, this committee can decide whether or not to protect these consumers online. Regulation of iGaming should not be viewed as an expansion of gambling in Washington State, but rather as an opportunity to protect consumers and add a new distribution channel for the state’s existing, and tightly regulated, gaming industry.”
Washington state has some of the harshest penalties for playing online power, despite that law never being used against players, Pappas said. A Class C felony carries up to 5 years in prison and a potential $10,000 fine.