The PoliticsFriday column in the Seattle Weekly, commenting on moves to raise up to $30 million in tax reveues by allowing four minute keno to be enjoyed in the state, highlights the apparent moral ambivalence of state politicians on the issue.
Washington state is notorious for draconian anti-online gambling laws that place players in the felony C (serious crime) category, although a wide and growing range of land gambling activities are permitted and even encouraged by the state legislators.
Columnist Caleb Hannan points out that state Senator Margarita Prentice only hates certain kinds of gambling, and reports that she is an 'unlikely ally' of governor Chris Gregoire, who is considering how four minute keno might be allowed in order to raise taxes to close a $2.6 billion state budget deficit.
"State Sen. Margarita Prentice is no one's idea of a friend to Washington gamblers," Hannan writes. "In 2006, she sponsored legislation that made online poker a felony in line with possessing kiddie porn or torturing an animal. A bill seen largely as Prentice's attempt to help Indian gaming interests that heavily contributed to her re-election campaigns.
"So why is Prentice considering sponsoring the Keno legislation? Maybe it's that climbing out of a budget hole on the backs of gamblers is more politically palatable than taxes."
A BILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS
Interesting snippet from a recent Wall Street Journal article is an estimate by gambling industry consulting firm H2 Gambling Capital that Internet gambling revenue for offshore companies was estimated to be $5.9 billion in 2008 from players in the U.S. and $21 billion from players worldwide.