Seattle Online Gambling Entrepreneur Vindicated

Published Wednesday, February 11, 2009 -

The Seattle Times reports, if you can renege on a bet, is it actually gambling?

For Nick Jenkins, an online entrepreneur from Seattle, this question is a crucial one. A state appeals court ruled Tuesday that the answer is clearly no. This vindication was a long time coming after Nick Jenkin's Web site,, was busted by the state Gambling Commission almost two years ago.

His patent-pending site, which paired bettors to wager on anything from sports to the weather was shut down without cause the court ruled.

In this case losers always had the right to click a button marked "I refuse to pay," therefore there was no guarantee that any money would actually change hands.

"Accordingly, there is nothing risked, which is the essence of both the common law and statutory definition of 'gambling,' " wrote Judge C.C. Bridgewater for the Court of Appeals Division II.

Jenkins was shaken by the whole experience, which included being jailed and extradited to Louisiana. He's feeling a little uneasy about starting up his web site again. "This could really be a big business; it could be a really big deal," he said. "But it makes it tough when the government is standing on your neck."

The state Attorney General's office contends that the Web site was still illegal regardless of the ability to renege on bets, because players' participation is based on an expectation that they might win.

Jenkins, who has a law degree, researched gambling statutes extensively ensuring his idea was legal.

The Betcha web site's service agreement states "Bettors are not obliged to pay when they lose," "We hope they will, of course, not because they have to, but because they should."

"It's an unlimited universe," Jenkins said, but added he had learned his lesson the hard way.

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