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More Trouble for Washington Online Gambling

By: Adam Richards, Thursday July 21st 2011
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Intrastate online gambling in the United States seems jinxed. The New Jersey bill was vetoed on the last day by the governor after being passed by the state senate and house. Now the Washington DC online gambling law seems to be in deep trouble after initial smooth sailing.

A Democrat council member Tommy Wells intends to seek a repeal of the new law even before it is implemented. Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Wells said that he plans to introduce legislation this fall that would prevent the online gambling initiative from proceeding to its conclusion. His grievance is that the online gambling bill became law in a devious manner by slipping it into the budget. This did not give him an opportunity to fully understand the implications. Wells made it clear that he was not morally opposed to gambling but there was no clarity on how online gambling would benefit the district. He summed up the event by saying, "It's not good government. It's not transparent."

Wells is not the only legislator who is uncomfortable with the online gambling initiative of Washington DC. Council member Jack Evans had called a hearing on the DC Lottery's implementation plan for online gambling. After the hearing it was decided to defer implementation, pending a wider public consultation on the desirability of the online gambling plan.

Evans is in touch with Wells. He has told Wells that he does not think is desirable or necessary to repeal the new online gambling law at this stage. His intent is to hold another hearing in October 2011 after the wider public consultation is over. Evans said, "I'm not going to do it until I'm very comfortable that this thing is OK. It could be a long time or not. I don't have a timetable in mind. It's not going to go into effect certainly until after October, if at all."

The online gambling law's author, Michael A. Brown, has also reacted to the stand taken by Wells. He said that no other council members have objected to the manner in which the bill was passed. Brown has thrown his weight behind Evans. He has supported the public consultation prior to the implementation. Brown said, "I want it to be done right, not fast."

Although not being stated as the reason for Wells' discordant note, an event associated with him is doing the rounds. Wells' power on the Council was diminished last week when Council Chairman Kwame Brown removed Wells from the chairmanship of the transportation committee. Everyone but Wells voted for the removal. After his removal Wells said that some of his colleagues on the council were uncomfortable with his commitment to ethics and good government.

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