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Washington Completes Online Gambling Consultations

By: Fabian Rictor, Thursday November 24th 2011
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The implementation of online gambling was halted in Washington DC by the instructions of the legislative council. Some members of the council were aggrieved with the controversy surrounding the legislation. The law was pushed through without due debate, being attached to a must pass supplementary budget bill. There also was the issue of the association of independent councilor Michael Brown, who has promoted the bill, with pro online gambling lobbyists. Therefore it was decided to hold public consultations in the eight wards of Washington DC to ascertain what the residents felt about the law and about online gambling in general. These consultations were to be conducted by DC Lottery, the implementing agency for the online gambling law. Even these consultations did not get off to the desired start and had to be postponed.

However, the Washington Post now reports that the community briefings have been completed. And they have gone off well prom the point of view of online gambling proponents. There were hardly any city residents who stood up and spoke against the concept of government sponsored online gambling. The general thrust of the questions was whether the technology available was good enough to ensure player protection and good enough to ensure the exclusion of problem gamblers and the under aged citizens who may be tempted to try their hand at online gambling. As per reports, some people even demanded to know why the process was taking so long.

It was evident that the funds were needed by the District. The main concerns of the Washington DC residents were how the revenues generated by online gambling would be deployed by the council. The initial estimates of the revenue put it at nine million dollars and as one citizen remarked, "Nine million dollars is nine million dollars." Residents indicated that they would like the funds to be used for education or poverty alleviation. The citizens voiced that there was nothing wrong with the District being first to legalize online gambling in the United States. Most of them found no difference between online gambling and lottery. One Washington DC resident said, "I'd rather gamble my money in my home town rather than driving to Atlantic City."

Commenting on the response to the public consultations, the Washington Post wrote, "That the populace, by and large, has given online gambling its retroactive approval has made the questions about its origins more puzzling." It argued that a separate independent bill on online gambling would have caused fewer difficulties in the path Therefore it did not make sense "to slip what appears to be a popular proposal through the back door". It now remains to be seen what the legislative council thinks about the response and whether the implementation process will be back on rails.

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