Facts: Respondent Internet Community and Entertainment Corporation was ordered to cease operation of its website Betcha.com by the petitioner Washington State Gambling Commission, which asserted that Betcha.com was a professional gambling operation and therefore in violation of Washington Revised Code §9.46. Betcha.com subsequently petitioned the Superior Court for Thurston County for a declaratory judgment that its operations do not violate §9.46. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Washington State Gambling Commission, ruling that Betcha.com’s activities do constitute an illegal professional gambling operation. The Washington Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling, holding that Betcha.com’s users had not engaged in gambling as defined by §9.46 as losing bettors were offered the option of not honoring their bets (and thereby lowering their “honor” rating). The Washington State Gambling Commission appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Did Betcha.com, which connected users wishing to wager on various events and charged these users transaction fees, avoid violating §9.46 by offering losing bettors the option of not honoring their bets?
Conclusion: Justice Chambers’ opinion for a unanimous Court held that Betcha.com was engaged in bookmaking and therefore professional gambling in violation of §9.46 regardless of whether bettors were obliged to pay their losses as §9.46 simply defines bookmaking as accepting bets as a business and/or charging a fee for the opportunity to place a bet and the term bet does not, for purposes of the statute, require that bets be honored. Thus, the Court reinstated the granting of summary judgment in favor of the Washington State Gambling Commission.
Petitioner: Washington State Gambling Commission
(Counsel: Jerry Alan Ackerman and Callie Anne Castillo)
Respondent: Internet Community and Entertainment Corporation
(Counsel: George E. Telquist)
Argument: Thursday, May 27, 2010 9:00am
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
Prevailing Party: Washington State Gambling Commission (Petitioner)
Court: Madsen1 Court (2010-)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.