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Online Gambling Questions After Contentious Hearing

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There's growing concern and controversy over a law that could allow online gambling in the District. Some lawmakers say plans to legalize online gambling were hidden within the city's budget to avoid public hearings.

The D.C. Inspector General and residents lashed out Thursday at an obscure law that would allow all forms of online gambling in the city.

Some D.C. Council members complained the expansion of gambling was hidden within the city's budget without public hearings. The criticism leaves the fate of online games in D.C. in doubt.

D.C. already allows closed-circuit gambling, but the Internet promises new avenues of players and revenue.

Some citizens complain the D.C. Lottery has rushed to put the games online.

“Everybody wants to rush this thing through,” former investigator Norman Smith said. “There's nothing to rush through. You've got to put it right. You've got to make it right.”

Even D.C. Inspector General Charles Willoughby complained the city's lottery contract was modified for online gaming after the council approved it.

At-large Council member Michael Brown -- the chief sponsor of online gambling -- Council member Marion Barry and lottery officials insisted everything was done legally.

Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells wants to repeal online gaming and start over with public hearings before online betting begins.

The large crowd at the daylong hearing heard Council Finance Committee Chairman Jack Evans worry that the online law surprised too many people.

At-large Council member David Catania sharply criticized how online gambling has been handled and called for the responsible officials to resign. He's threatening to file a lawsuit against the city if online gambling isn't done properly.

The contentious hearing left in doubt when or even if online gaming will be added to the city's lottery games.

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