• Court: Betcha.com Is Not Gambling
  • March 23, 2009
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • A Washington state appeals court has found that the website Betcha.com did not break state gambling laws, because users were permitted to renege on bets without paying.

    "Because Betcha.com customers agreed in advance that participants were not required to pay their losses, Betcha.com was not engaged in ‘gambling,’" the court wrote.

    The Web site, which was shut down shortly after its launch, allowed users to bet each other on things like election outcomes and sports games. Although, under its terms of service, "bettors are not obliged to pay when they lose," the site also permitted users to rate each other based on whether they made good on their bets.

    Just a few weeks after its debut in 2007, the Washington State Gambling Commission ordered founder Nicholas Jenkins to shut down Betcha.com. Jenkins sued in state court, requesting that the court rule that the site was lawful. The trial court ruled against Jenkins, but the appellate court reversed the ruling.

    A spokesperson for the State Gambling Commission said it plans to appeal the decision to the Washington Supreme Court.

    While the Washington case was pending, Jenkins was extradited to Louisiana on criminal computer gambling charges stemming from Betcha.com. That case was dismissed in October.