Online Gaming Hearing In Washington

The Finance and Revenue committee recently met to discuss several issues related to the Washington D.C. online gambling bill which included the practicalities, legality, and propriety of legalized online gambling in D.C. The bill was originally proposed as part of a supplemental budget in December 2010. Since there was no hearing related to the bill, the Mayor of Washington wanted to learn more about how the initiative would be regulated before making a decision.

Federal Legality

With regards to legality, it has been confirmed that intrastate online gambling complied with United States federal laws. Therefore, the D.C. Lottery could proceed with the launch of the system scheduled for September 2011. As a result, it is likely the idea will be adopted by other states contemplating the legalization of online gaming.

Issue Of Advanced Notice

The hearing also addressed the issue of advanced notice not being given. It was noted that the bill was introduced to the proper legislative bodies four months before being voted on which is a sufficient amount of time. Therefore, most of the councilors were aware of the proposal although several had not yet been exposed to the bill.

Measures For Responsible Gambling

The Executive Director of the D.C. Lottery outlined the measures that needed to be implemented to confirm the District’s citizens will be gambling responsibly. For instance, players will not be permitted to deposit more than $250 per week. Also, payments could only be made through a debit card to prevent players from wagering with borrowed money.

Hot Spot Locations

A player’s age will be verified and Internet Protocol is expected to be logged for all players. The initial playing hot spots will include hotel rooms, bars, and other establishments that provide WiFi. However, schools, libraries, and recreation centers will not be hot spots. All wagering patterns will be monitored electronically and those that do no wager responsibly will no longer be able to participate in the activity.

The District Chief Financial Officer estimates revenue of $13 million over four years which is conservative. Other speakers at the hearing indicated that part of the revenue should be earmarked to support gambling addiction services. Despite support from the mayor, until the bill is signed into law, nothing is a done deal. Hopefully, the D.C. Lottery has ironed out all the wrinkles and is ready to implement the system In September.