(CN) – Betcha.com, a site that arranges wagers between individuals, violates Washington’s gambling laws, the Washington Supreme Court ruled.
Internet Community & Entertainment (ICE) Corp. started the Betcha website in 2007. It connects individual gamblers who want to arrange their own bets.
Betcha charges a fee to its customers, who post bet proposals. Other gamblers click on the wagers they want to accept. Betcha customers establish a betting fund to cover their losses using a credit card.
When a bet has ended, the loser has 72 hours to click on a button and decline to honor his bet. If he doesn’t do that, the loser’s money is transferred from an escrow account to the winner.
Losers who fail to pay their bets suffer a drop in their honor rating and can get negative online feedback.
Not long after ICE launched Betcha, the Washington State Gambling Commission took action to shut it down. The commission determined that Betcha illegally engaged in professional gambling.
ICE appealed, citing the loser’s option to simply decline to pay the winner.
The trial court ruled for the commission, but the court of appeals agreed with ICE that its users were not gambling because there was no guarantee that they would get anything if they won.
The state’s high court again reversed, siding with the commission.
“We hold that Betcha was engaged in professional gambling because it engaged in ‘bookmaking’ as that term is defined under the gambling act,” Justice Tom Chambers wrote.
The justices reversed the appeals court and reinstated the trial court’s summary judgment for the commission.