Peer-to-Peer gambling Web site Betcha.com was shut down by authorities from the Washington Gaming Commission, who stated that the site’s honor-based mode of betting violated the state’s 2006 online gambling ban.
Agents holding a search warrant raided the company’s office this morning, seizing laptops and monitors before the start of the working day. Betcha.com’s founder, Nick Jenkins, was alerted of the raid by his wife, who happened upon the agents during an early-morning visit to the office.
Betcha.com was launched in June as a betting operation that would allow individuals to directly place bets with one another in a casual, peer-to-peer fashion. Betcha.com officials stated that the site was legal because the gentlemanly nature of the bets allowed bettors to renege on any losses, thus eliminating the element of consideration from each betting transaction. However, in order to promote gentlemanly behavior, Betcha gave each user an "honor rating" that fluctuated up or down depending on how well users covered their losses.
Jenkins, a graduate from Georgetown School of Law, set up the site with the assumption that the lack of consideration present in the bets would exempt the site from state and federal gambling legislation.
"This is an honor-based betting platform," Jenkins told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "How can you be gambling under a legal definition if you don't have to pay when you lose?"
The shutdown came three days after the site first conflicted with the Washington State Gambling Commission, which ordered Betcha.com to shut down based on a narrow interpretation of state law. Although the company attempted to counter this interpretation by filing suit to exempt the site from state gambling legislation, this morning’s events seem to suggest that the suit was unsuccessful.
Jenkins intends to continue to fight the shutdown, claiming that the commission has lost perspective how best to enforce state laws.
"When you are a hammer, I guess everything looks like a nail," he said.