Written on 4/14/11 By Recentpoker.com staff writer Anthony Aperman :
Tacit approval from a missed deadline, but what comes next?
Widespread US mainstream media stories this week have confirmed our earlier reports that online gambling is now a distinct possibility in the city-state of Washington DC due to Congress missing a deadline to oppose or complain.
By way of a recap: DC Councilman Michael Brown introduced the idea as an amendment to a December 2010 spending bill on the DC Lottery, needed to close a $175 million budget gap in the current fiscal year.
The city council gave its approval and the 30-day waiting period for Congress to act on it ended without any opposition from Congress – a requirement for certain DC proposals.
This tacit approval means that Washington DC has technically become the first US state to legalise online poker, games of chance and fantasy sports betting through its lottery.
The law allows the D.C. Lottery to create online poker and other "games of chance" and betting on fantasy sports leagues similar to those already established on the Web, officials said last week. The city's chief financial officer estimates the city could raise $13 million in additional revenue from licensed online gambling in fiscal 2014.
This week, a D.C. Lottery spokeswoman confirmed that the organisation has commenced planning.
The gaming would be operated by Intralot, and would be available only to gamblers within the borders of the district, she confirmed.
Commenting on the federal legal situation, Brown said, “There was really no clear law that said we could not do this.”
"Anytime you're cutting budgets and you want to save some programs, you're looking for different pieces from different pots and you hope that you get to the number that restores those budget shortfalls and that's what we're trying to do with this," he added.
Commenting to the Associated Press news agency on the Washington DC developments, David Schwartz of the University of Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research opined that other states were waiting for clearer federal guidance before proceeding with Internet gambling proposals.
"There's a lot of ambiguity at the federal level," he said. "A lot of people are waiting for some sort of federal legalization that would create a regulatory structure."
The U.S. Justice Department, which in the past has always been forward in voicing an opinion that all internet gambling is illegal in the United States, declined to comment on the Washington DC issue.
On Tuesday, Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said he was unsure of how advanced the online gambling preparations were, but noted that when ready the new products would be offered as part of the city-state's lottery program to generate additional resources.