Mr. Brown distinguished the new lottery definition approved by the D.C. Council as a “hybrid” of games of skill and games of chance. Pointing to the need for the District to compete with nearby states, he drew comparisons to Maryland and West Virginia. But the games in those states are not administered by the lottery.
Mr. Brown’s budget presentation emphasized that “there are at least 12 states contemplating legislation similar to this amendment.” He pointed to California, where an online poker bill died in the state Legislature this year, and New Jersey, which has yet to pass a bill.
He also cited other states, such as New York and Illinois, which are in the process of implementing online poker. But those states had previously approved either casino gambling or video poker.
In addition to the online poker provision, the council approved language that would expand the current lottery’s products to include “fantasy sports,” like the games offered by ESPN and Yahoo, which allow players to simulate pro football, basketball and hockey using computer-generated statistics. However, those games do not involve payouts.
Reaction to the budget amendment was muted. Some council staff suggested that even as an incremental effort to legalize online gambling, Mr. Brown’s proposal might call for more input from the public.
Mr. Nickles said he would be looking at a number of federal statutes in the coming days, including the Federal Wire Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and the Johnson Act, which generally prohibits the manufacture, possession, use, sale or transportation of any gambling device in Indian Country, the District of Columbia and possessions of the U.S. The Johnson Act was cited by a federal appeals court in the District, which in 2006 ruled the federal law prohibited slot machine gambling in the District.
“This specific area of law is a bit unsettled,” stated Mr. Brown in a memo provided to The Washington Times. “However there is nothing in current local or federal law that prohibits this type of gaming and the U.S. Department of Justice has made no effort to curtail procurements in other states.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Jeffrey Anderson is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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