Crunching Day For Washington DC Online Gambling

Finance and Revenue Committee votes on Wednesday whether to progress a repeal of legalization law

Councillor Jack Evans scheduled the Washington DC Finance and Revenue Committee hearing to decide whether to progress attempts to repeal the legalization act. Controversial legalization of online gambling in Washington DC were re-examined by politicians and led up to the legalization approval attached to a supplementary budget measure.

It is not D.C. Council's moral opposition to district's online gambling program, but council members' worries about the way it became law, claiming they did not realize they voted for it.

Evans was the main opponent of the legalization, objecting the manner in which the measure was introduced and the lack of prior public consultation, along with concerns regarding lottery contract amendments. He said he would move the repeal bill out of his finance and revenue committee by personally voting for it when the repeal appears before the full council.

The Democratic Party politician explained that neither the council nor the public was given enough opportunity to comment on the program before it became law. Furthermore, he is now concerned by a report from the district's Inspector General about changes to the district's contract with its lottery vendor Intralot regarding online gambling.

Evans claims that internet gambling became law outside the normal legislative process and it all started with the Council's approval of Intralot's $39 million contract in 2009, including only language about "nontraditional games" without specifying that Intralot would be able to bring online gambling to the district.

Subsequently the contract was amended by the council’s chief financial officer, allegedly without council authority, to specifically mention the provision of internet games. It cleared the way in late 2010 for Councillor Michael A. Brown and his legalization bill attached onto a supplemental budget bill which was approved, but left some councilors, as they said, unaware that they were signing online gambling into law.

According to local reports, committee members Councillors David Catania and Muriel Bowser said they will vote for the repeal measure to progress, whilst two other committee members, Brown and Marion Barry, will vote against it.

Other members of the 12-person council have yet to indicate how they will vote, predictions say that at least Jim Graham, Phil Mendelson, and Tommy Wells, who introduced the repeal bill, will support the repeal. Councillor Kwame Brown has not taken the position yet, but on many occasions said he opposes all gambling.

Mayor Vincent Gray's spokesman told media this week that Gray as well wants to see online gambling repealed. "It's become such a divisive issue. It's not critical to the fiscal needs of the city. It's just better to stop this, take a few steps back, take a deep breath and figure out where to go from here," said the spokesman.

Councillor Michael Brown, who introduced the legalization act, said he would continue to try to convince his colleagues of the merits of internet gaming, but admitted he was “obviously disappointed” with the dwindling support for the program.

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