A decision this week by a Washington court to rule that social gaming sites illegal under state law has caused PokerStars to stop allowing Washingtonians access to their free play online poker site.
The move was a proactive one on the part of PokerStars, who is keen to avoid any regulatory trouble in the United States as they look to build their brand in the burgeoning online market there. Players will now be blocked access to the site, even though the state's gambling regulator says that online sites have to block access to free games. Only sites where players can buy in for more chips are outlawed under state law.
This past week a Washington Circuit Court ruled that social sites that offer purchases to buy in for more chips or play are illegal under the state's gambling laws. The defendant in the case was Big Fish Games, which runs the social Big Fish Casino and is owned by Churchill Downs. It's likely that PokerStars' pullout is the first of many to take place in The Evergreen State, although CL News hasn't heard of any additonal groups leaving the market.
In a statement PokerStars parent company The Stars Group said, "We are hopeful the law will be clarified and that when it is, we will be able to reinstate all Washington players at their current status."