Lee Rousso Fights for Online PokerPublished April 30, 2008 by OCR Editor
Ahead of his May 15 Constitutional challenge in a Washington state court, Mr. Lee Rousso has talked to us about poker politics.
Mr. Rousso is the Poker Players Association representative in the state of Washington, where he has even ran for governor, before pulling out recently to focus on a legal challenge against the state's online gambling ban.
Online Casino Reports:: Mr. Rousso, how are you doing today?
Lee Rousso: Good Daniel, how are you doing?
Online Casino Reports: Thank you. May 15. What do you expect the court case to achieve?
Lee Rousso: Well, on that date I will have my constitutional challenge heard before Judge Mary Roberts of the King County Superior Court, here in the Seattle area. If I am successful in my lawsuit the judge will strike down the Washington state law that makes it a crime to gamble on the Interet. So if I am successful in that, people in the state of Washington will be able to play poker on the Internet without being worried about law enforcement. I think all other state laws around the United States that attempt to regulate Internet gambling will also be in a lot of trouble as well. I would refer similar suits in other states.
Online Casino Reports: You expect state courts to decide the future of online gambling in each state, or would it come from above, say a federal law?
Lee Rousso: I think the first go around will be decided in state courts, but eventually it will probably work its way into the federal court because it does involve constitutional issues and I wouldn't be surprised if eventually it made it all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Online Casino Reports: And how long or in what stages do you expect individuals, players, like yourself, to keep the fight going before it moves on to the Supreme Court and such?
Lee Rousso: The entire process of appeals can take conceivably two years, maybe three years. It takes a long time for cases to make it all the way to the United States Supreme Court. There will probably be an appeal to the Washington State Supreme Court after which there can be an appeal to the United State Supreme Court.
Online Casino Reports: Talking about online gambling and politics, we've been following the Democratic Party presidential primaries. What implications, if any, do you expect it to have regarding Internet gambling? Do you expect the candidates to comment on the issue or maybe to bring a change in due time?
Lee Rousso: Unfortunately, neither of the Democratic finalists, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, is really a friend of Internet poker. My understanding is that Barack Obama plays poker but he is opposed to Internet gambling. He does not believe it can be effectively regulated. I think Hillary Clinton, though she hasn't made any public comments on the issue but I don't have any real sense that she will be a friend of Internet poker either. It is possible John McCain might actually be a little bit friendlier because he does have a libertarian streak, and he might respect the rights of people to play poker from the privacy of their own homes.
Online Casino Reports: So for the while you expect it to stay on the "Lee Rousso" level, i.e. individuals taking the case to court in the different states and pursuing the case.
Lee Rousso: Well, beyond that I think that the Poker Players Alliance will, in various races around the country this year, where we have a clear choice between a pro poker candidate and an anti poker candidate, I expect the Poker Players Alliance will be getting involved in some races. I'm just not sure that in the Presidential race we're going to have that much interest.
Online Casino Reports: Thank you for joining me. It was a pleasure getting to talk to you about your legal battle. We'll try to follow you and call you again sometime soon.
Lee Rousso: Thanks.