Washington DC Online Casino Games Law Repealed

By Maria McCoyGoogle

Earlier this week, uncertainty over the status of online casinos in Washington, DC ended when the city council voted to repeal the law which provided for the regulation of online casino games. Although the original law was passed over a year ago, its implementation met continuous setbacks. Similar to New Jersey, DC came close to being the first provider of USA online casinos, but was unable to follow through. 

Councilor Michael A. Brown, the sponsor of the bill, tried his best to circumvent its repeal, offering to submit a compromise bill. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who had supported the initial bill, stated that he would support a re-bid of the entire contract if the council did not repeal the bill.

Councilor Jack Evans, chairman of the city's Revenue and Finance Committee, cautioned that as a consequence of the repeal, there would be greater scrutiny of the lottery contract. Council member Tommy Wells, a co-sponsor of the repeal with Evans, said, "I certainly have a lot of questions about the process of selecting the partner in the lottery contract, and that's a conversation I will be having with Mr. Evans." Those who are close to the issue have stated that the problem is not as much about the online casino games law as it about the contentious lottery contract for about $38 million.

Concerns about the lottery stemmed from a report by D.C. Inspector General Charles J. Willoughby, who determined that as part of city's lottery contract with Intralot, non-traditional games were altered to online casino games without permission of the Council. Willoughby also stated that Intralot's local partner, businessman Emmanuel S. Bailey, failed to disclose the true nature of his business dealings during the bid for the lottery contract.

In discussions after the vote, Councilor Brown made note of the fact that DC community members had responded positively to online casino games in meetings held by the DC Lottery last year. Therefore, he pointed out, the concerns about lottery contract could have been handled as a separate issue.

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