A bold plan to offer online poker and other gambling in the District this September ran into trouble today.
The D.C. government takes in almost $100 million in lottery revenues every year, but a plan to begin limited online gambling in September ran into opposition Wednesday, NBC Washington’s Tom Sherwood reported.
The D.C. Council may delay the launch of the nation's first government-run online gambling program, in part because residents won't have enough time to weigh in on potential gambling “hot spots” near their homes.
The council approved online gambling late last year as part of a budget bill. It was quietly inserted into the budget by Council member Michael Brown and then Chairman Vincent Gray after months of private meetings with gaming officials, Sherwood reported. It became law this spring when Congress did not object.
Now, the D.C. Lottery is preparing to offer online poker, blackjack, virtual slot machines and other games by Sept. 8 for people with computers registered in D.C. The city is putting up practice games with no money next month, Sherwood reported.
Lottery officials plan to initially make online gambling available at businesses like bars, restaurants and hotels. But Council member Jack Evans said the Sept. 8 deadline won't give residents enough opportunity to object if they don't like the idea of local businesses becoming gambling hubs.
Several witnesses complained online gaming never went before a public hearing until today. Other witnesses said they wanted the revenue from online gambling. Some worried the gambling parlors will change the nature of their neighborhoods.