Another strike for Washington State Gambling Commission

The most draconian anti-online gambling laws in America exercised by state officials

Washington, the state that has the dubious reputation for the most draconian anti-online gambling laws in America, has struck at an online gambling site allegedly taking NASCAR betting.

According to local news station KXLY, Washington State Gambling Commission agents have arrested a Spokane Valley man believed behind an online NASCAR gambling site that exchanged thousands of dollars in illegal winnings to participants over the last decade.

The home of Spokane Valley resident David Watkins was raided Thursday morning in conjunction with an ongoing investigation into the website, a website Watkins allegedly ran as a Fantasy NASCAR betting league for more than a decade.

WSGC agents obtained search warrants on information gathered from Fantasy Thunder participants as well as a forensic review of the website. They determined that Valley resident David Watkins was the person behind the site.

Punters who had used the site but appear to have had a payment beef with Watkins helped the agents to investigate how Watkins received money from participants, keeping half for himself and giving the rest back to participants for their winnings as part of the fantasy league.

One person, James Marks, said that he was owed $3 730 by Watkins for winning bets placed on the Fantasy Thunder site. Another player, Ken Woods, said that he had been participating in the site’s fantasy league for five years and had received $2 700 from Watkins in early 2009 for his winnings during the first half of the NASCAR season.

A number of Fantasy Thunder players came forward in February this year reporting payment problems that should have been resolved during the second half of the NASCAR season, and a communications problem with Watkins shortly thereafter.

Archie Hazel, another regular player, told investigators that he too was owed winnings for the last season but had not been paid. Hazel told investigators that participants would pay their entry fees for the Fantasy Thunder site and Watkins would keep 50 percent of those proceeds as a maintenance fee to keep the website operational while the rest would go toward paying prizes to players.

Gambling commission agents said that because online gambling is illegal in Washington state all wagers placed by all of Fantasy Thunder’s participants were illegal and none of the winnings will be paid.

The Fantasy Thunder site was reportedly shut down on or about March 3rd.

Watkins was arrested and taken into custody during the Thursday morning raid on his home and booked into the Spokane County Jail on a single felony charge of 2nd Degree Professional Gambling.

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