The federal government may be working hard to finish the year with some sort of legal online gambling but it seems the local Washington government is not waiting anymore. The D.C. Council on Tuesday did what most people believe Senator Harry Reid is doing in Congress, attached an online poker and fantasy sports gambling proposal into a massive budget bill.
Introduced by Democrat Michael Brown, the amendment would allow customers to play online poker as long as they were playing within the District and it would run on a private network that would be controlled by the DC Lottery. The vote passed 11-2 and went all but unnoticed by many in the local government and the public. The amendment will redefine the D.C. Lottery to include both games of skill and games of chance.
Though approved there could be some speed bumps along the way to getting this enacted. According to outgoing D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles whom this amendment bypassed getting a review from, there could be several federal statutes that stand in the way of getting this amendment rolled out to the public. Also Congress could step in and deny the enactment of this amendment.
Michael Brown was asked if he thought Congress would intervene and he said;
“Obviously Congress can do a variety of things with anything we pass, but we can’t stop from being innovative just because they legislate what we do.” Mr. Brown added, “This specific area of law is a bit unsettled. However there is nothing in current local or federal law that prohibits this type of gaming and the U.S. Department of Justice has made no effort to curtail procurements in other states.”
The D.C. area has seen a decline in lottery sales over the last 4 years and this amendment is being looked at as a way to increase revenue to help with a $200 million gap in the budget. In addition to the provision to allow online poker, the lottery will also include fantasy games like those you can play on other popular sites like Yahoo, ESPN and other sports pages.
So the end of 2010 looks like it is going to be an interesting time for online gambling players in the United States. More and more local governments are stepping up to take a look at what online gambling can offer them as they struggle to meet their yearly budgets.