Thursday September 1, 2011 : Concern over lottery contract triggers more scrutiny of online gambling legalization in the US capital
The Washington DC intrastate legalization of online gambling will again come under scrutiny at a further hearing called by Jack Evans, the Democrat chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue.
The Washington Times reported this week that the issue of how the online gambling bill was passed attached to a supplementary budget bill has been highlighted by similar concerns over the award of a 51 percent stake in the city-state's $38 million lottery contract to a local businessman who never participated in the competitive bidding process.
Three DC councillors signaled their intent Wednesday to re-examine the D.C. Lottery contract, along with the internet gambling legalization bill, the implementation of which is currently on the back burner following demands that a public consultative process take place.
The councillors are concerned at reports that the DC Inspector General, Charles J. Willoughby, had failed to act on a request from two former Cabinet officials to investigate irregularities in the lottery contract and the oversight activities of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Natwar M. Gandhi, the newspaper reported.
“The inspector general should be doing an investigation,” said Evans.
“If the inspector general didn’t do his job, then it’s a problem,” said Evans, revealing that he will hold a further hearing on the internet gambling legalization bill when the council reconvenes this [September] month.
Evans is backed by council member Muriel Bowser, a Democrat who chairs the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, which has oversight of the Office of the Inspector General, and who also serves on Evans's finance committee.
“People are concerned about the lottery procurement, period,” she said. “I’ve always been uncomfortable with the contract.”
Asked whether she had concerns about the inspector general, Bowser replied, “It’s legitimate to ask what he has done. People are concerned that the city’s enforcement mechanisms are not enforcing effectively. The public needs to have confidence in those responsible for enforcing regulations, rules and ethics.”
Of the online gambling bill, she added, “It was not responsible to pass it in a supplemental budget bill without public conversation. It definitely was a sleight of hand.”
Another Democrat, Councillor Tommy Wells, has pledged to introduce legalization to repeal the legalization bill.