Washington DC Online Gambling Bill Under Scrutiny – Again

A new hearing for the bill

A new hearing for the Washington DC intrastate legalization of online gambling has been called this week by Jack Evans, the Democrat chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue.

The concern expressed this time involves the issue of how the online gambling bill was passed attached to a supplementary budget bill, and how a 51 percent stake in the city-state's $38 million lottery contract will be awarded to a local businessman who never even took part in the bid for the stake.

It was announced by three DC councilors that they plan to investigate into the D.C. Lottery contract as well, being concerned about reports that the DC Inspector General, Charles J. Willoughby, had failed to act on a request from two former Cabinet officials to investigate irregularities in the lottery contract and the oversight activities of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Natwar M. Gandhi.

“The inspector general should be doing an investigation,” said Evans, adding: “If the inspector general didn’t do his job, then it’s a problem.”

Evans also specified that he will hold a further hearing on the bill in September, when the council reconvenes. Currently, the implementation of the bill is put aside for the time being, due to the demands for a public consultative process.

A significant support to Evans has come from Democratic council member Muriel Bowser, who serves on Evans’s finance committee and chairs the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, which has oversight of the Office of the Inspector General.

According to her, “People are concerned about the lottery procurement, period. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the contract.” In terms of her concerns about the inspector general, she explained: “It’s legitimate to ask what he has done. People are concerned that the city’s enforcement mechanisms are not enforcing effectively. The public needs to have confidence in those responsible for enforcing regulations, rules and ethics.”

In conclusion, she expressed quite a clear opinion on the online gambling legalization bill: “It was not responsible to pass it in a supplemental budget bill without public conversation. It definitely was a sleight of hand.”

In addition, the legalization bill has found another opponent in shape of a Democratic Councilor Tommy Wells, who has promised to introduce legislation to repeal it.

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