Online Poker in D.C. Won't Have High Stakes

Tuesday, Jun 28, 2011  |  Updated 4:50 PM EDT
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Online Gambling Comes to DC

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Online Gambling Comes to DC

D.C. is getting into online gambling. City officials say that the money raised will help close the budget gap. The games will be available this summer, but you'll have to be physically in the city to play.
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Online poker has essentially been banned in the United States, but it's legal in the nation's capital.

If all goes according to plan, gamblers in the District will be able to play government-sponsored Texas Hold 'Em on their laptops within three months.

But don't expect out-of-work professional poker players to relocate to the D.C. Officials with the D.C. Lottery will be imposing strict limits on the amount that can be wagered.

Lottery director Buddy Roogow said players will probably be barred from depositing more than $250 a week into their accounts.

That means D.C.'s online poker operation won't serve as a replacement to popular sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker, which stopped operating in the U.S. in April after their executives were indicted on bank fraud charges.

As NBC Washington's Tom Sherwood reported, to participate in D.C.'s version, you'll have to carry your laptop to "hot spot" gaming centers that will be set up in bars, hotels and other high-density places where tourists and citizens gather.

The system is being designed to avoid federal prohibitions on Internet gambling, so you’ll have to be located physically within the District to play. But ultimately, the goal is to expand the program so that anyone anywhere in the District may log on and gamble.

A bill creating the new online opportunity was sponsored by at-large D.C. Council member Michael Brown and then-Mayor-elect Vincent Gray. It passed as an amendment to the budget with no public hearings. It cleared routine congressional review in early spring.

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