Washington DC's controversial (and unilateral) legalisation of intrastate online gambling appears to have survived a series of eight public consultation briefings rather well, according to reports this week in the Washington Post.
The briefings were conducted across the city on the insistence of some factions within the council, who were unhappy with the manner in which the legislation had been pushed through attached to a supplementary budget bill, and have questions regarding the association of its promoter, independent councillor Michael Brown A Brown, with pro gambling lobbyists.
The Washington Post reports that during the community briefings, conducted by the Washington DC Lottery, few city residents stood up to lodge objections to the notion of government-sponsored online gambling.
Instead, questions appear to have focused on the technology available to ensure player protection and the exclusion of problem gambers and the underaged, and concerns about where the city planned to spend the revenues generated by the games once implemented.
There were even a few enquiries about why the process was taking so long, according to some reports.
Illustrating the point, the Washington Post published some of the public comments:
“Nine million dollars is nine million dollars.” A reference to the expected initial revenues from the project.
“There’s nothing wrong with the District being first.” Washington DC will be the first to legalise internet gambling in the United States if the project continues.
“The District needs the money.” Residents wanted to ensure the cash goes to education or poverty relief.
“It’s just as good as the lottery; it’s the same thing.”
“I’d rather gamble my money in my home town rather than driving to [Atlantic City].”
The newspaper does not appear to be pro-online gambling, but did comment: “That the populace, by and large, has given online gambling its retroactive approval has made the questions about its origins more puzzling.”
It then went on to re-examine the manner in which Councillor Brown drove the measure through to its present standing as an approved city enabling law.
“Why, after all, would you try to slip what appears to be a popular proposal through the back door, when the front door would have caused a lot fewer headaches?” it asks before reprising the various and now well-worn arguments critical of Brown's successful introduction of the law, and delving once again into the labyrinthine nature of local politics and personalities.