Gambling enthusiasts in Washington may be dismayed to learn that while it is legal to place a wager at one of the numerous brick-and-mortar casinos located in the state, placing the same wager over the Internet is a crime. This result arises from a 2006 amendment to Washington Revised Code 9.46.240 (the Gambling Act), which effectively bans individuals from placing bets or wagers over the Internet from Washington. In addition to prohibiting bets made by individuals, the law also prohibits Internet gambling businesses from receiving bets placed by individuals in Washington—even if those gambling businesses operate far from the state’s borders. This Note critiques the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision in Rousso and proposes that future courts should adopt the reasoning articulated by the Washington Court of Appeals when assessing the constitutionality of state Internet gambling laws. To that end, this Note proceeds in five Parts. Part II explains the social concerns associated with Internet gambling and outlines the federal and state laws that seek to address those concerns. Part III outlines the origin, principles, and legal standard of the dormant Commerce Clause, the doctrine used by Washington courts to assess the constitutionality of the state’s Internet gambling ban. Part IV then discusses the legal challenge in Rousso, beginning with a background of the case and concluding with the court’s application of the dormant Commerce Clause. In particular, this Part argues that although the court reached the correct conclusion, its analysis was unfaithful to precedent and incomplete. Part V argues that future courts should adopt the reasoning applied by the Washington State Court of Appeals when assessing the constitutionality of state Internet gambling regulations. Part VI concludes.
Rachel J. Schaefer, Must the House Always Win?: A Critique of Rousso v. State, 35 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 1549 (2012).