Friday September 23, 2011 : Councilman Brown remains defiant, and a positive poll in the Washington Times
In Washington DC, the bad-tempered political row over the District's new law legalising online gambling continued, although the chief antagonist, Councilman Jack Evans, conceded that threats to repeal the legalization could not be actioned until the public consultation phase had been concluded.
The results of that consultation may deliver some surprises; according to a snap poll conducted by the Washington Times this week, 85 percent of respondents approved of the legalization of online poker at http://www.washingtontimes.com/polls/2011/sep/20/do-you-think-online-poker-should-be-legalized/.
Only 14 percent of respondents gave a negative vote, with two percent each for "undecided" and "other" categories.
The consultative phase involves public meetings conducted by the DC Lottery in all eight wards of the city, after which Evans will consider the issue in detail and comprehensively in a further hearing he plans to conduct as chairman of the council's Committee on Finance and Revenue.
Evans said his eventual hearing will include any input from the D.C. inspector general about i-Gaming and how the council awarded the underlying lottery contract about two years ago.
However, other councillors, specifically Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, and Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, introduced a bill earlier this week to repeal the part of the law that authorises i-Gaming. Council member David A. Catania, at-large independent, signaled from the dais that he would co-sponsor the bill.
“This legalization will allow us, the public, to have the conversation that we didn’t have last year, and give us the chance to weigh the pros and cons in full daylight before making a decision about whether or not this makes sense for the residents of the District of Columbia,” Wells said.
Wells added that he is not sure how the rest of his colleagues at City Hall feel about the issue. “I haven’t walked the building yet,” he said.
The independent councillor who last year drove the i-gaming law through as part of a supplementary budget bill, Michael A. Brown, remained a strong proponent this week, defending the measure in a letter to fellow councillors. He reiterated that the program has, in fact, been passed into law… and colleagues have not jumped to strike it down.
“One person raised their hand,” he said of co-sponsors for a repeal.
Brown continues to promote the law as a “win-win” way to generate revenue for the District while regulating a very popular pastime that goes on, illegally, on offshore websites.