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Support for online gambling in Washington DC

It appears that Washington DC councillor Jack Evans is intent on pressing ahead with political hearings on the city's controversial legalisation of online gambling despite a generally favourable reaction from the public attending briefing sessions he had insisted be held.

Evans, a Democratic Party councillor, holds the chair of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, and has indicated that he plans to hold hearings at the same time as a bill to repeal the program altogether.

The bill was introduced in September by Councillor and fellow Democrat Tommy Wells, who said at the time that he wanted to repeal the iGaming law and “weigh the pros and cons in full daylight.”

The bill is currently intrastate law, having passed through the Legislature attached to a supplementary budget bill late last year. Evans originally complained that the public had not been briefed on the bill, leading to the DC Lottery holding a series of nine public sessions across the district.

This week DC Lottery director Buddy Roogow told the Washington Times that following the positive reception by the public, the Lottery does not plan to change the essential components of its online gambling plan.

The lottery has made audio recordings of the briefing sessions, and these will be summarised for the Evans committee when it schedules the hearing.

“I think the substantial majority of people who attended and spoke were supportive,” Roogow said, acknowledging there was concern over how the revenues from iGaming should be used, and some opposition to the concept of online gambling.

Roogow said it had been decided to hold off on random-number-generated games and Victory at Sea and initially introduce four games – poker, blackjack, bingo and E-scratch, rolling out additional offerings in the future.

Lottery officials claim the initiative will be tightly monitored to avoid cheating, underage or irresponsible play and caps losses at $250 per week among its participants, who must register and be approved to play.

Evans will probably schedule his hearings only after he receives a report from the Office of the Inspector General, which is investigating the award of the D.C. Lottery contract and how online gambling was passed into law.

Evans said that it is unlikely that any hearings will be held before early 2012 due to the holiday season disruption.

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