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D.C. Lottery exploring online gambling systems

Will not use city’s secure network

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The D.C. Lottery's planned online gambling program will not be hosted on the city's secure DC-NET Internet system as originally planned, information technology officials said Wednesday.

The gambling program known as iGaming faces a repeal effort in the D.C. Council, yet lottery officials have been working on its implementation since it passed into law as part of a supplemental budget plan last December.

D.C. Lottery's initial plans to use DC-NET — a high-speed fiber-optic network that carries data, voice, video and wireless telecommunications for government and public safety purposes — were couched as a way to keep play within city borders and to ensure a secure connection for wagered games. D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan has told the council that play has to remain within the city to be lawful.

D.C. Lottery director Buddy Roogow said Wednesday that officials opted for other forms of technology to secure the system, but he declined to elaborate on the technology.

Mr. Roogow said the lottery is "very confident" in its systems, adding that "we don't want to give away everything we're doing" in respect to the intellectual property involved in the first-in-the-nation effort to offer and regulate online gambling.

"We feel we've found other ways to secure the system in terms of intrajurisdictional play," Mr. Roogow said.

Lottery officials said they have no plans to change the main components of iGaming after they held a series of community events to address concerns about the program that allows approved users to wager money and play on their home computers or on their laptops in certain public areas.

However, they did reduce from six to four the number of games planned to debut when iGaming is implemented. The pair of games left out of the lottery's initial plans could be introduced at a later time, officials said.

Also on Wednesday, Mayor Vincent C. Gray responded to developments in a lawsuit tied to the initial awarding of the D.C. Lottery contract to DC09, a joint venture between Greek company Intralot and a Maryland businessman who serves as its local partner.

The city's chief financial officer, Natwar M. Gandhi, testified in a recent deposition that he used a private account to send messages to persons involved in the lottery contract awarding, including Mr. Gray, according to court filings by plaintiff Eric Payne. Mr. Payne, a former procurement officer in the CFO's office, claims he was unjustly terminated for raising questions about how the contract was awarded.

In his deposition, Mr. Gandhi said he "occasionally" used his personal account to reach city officials from his home.

"Not a regular basis, but 4:30 in the morning, if I need to send a message to an elected person I will do that," Mr. Gandhi said in the deposition.

Mr. Gray said he does not use a private email account to conduct the work of the city and does not condone the practice by anyone in his administration.

"I don't recall getting any emails from Dr. Gandhi on a private email account," Mr. Gray said at a press briefing, noting he "would be happy" to review any dates and hard copies of the purported messages if Mr. Gandhi provides them.

Mr. Gray said he has a separate email account for private business but has not used it to circumvent public information laws.

"I don't support any officials doing that," Mr. Gray said. "This is the first I've heard of anybody doing that. If we identify who they are, there will be a discussion with them about that because it's not appropriate."

Mr. Gray said there is no clear policy on whether private emails should be disseminated if they appear to discuss city business.

Mr. Nathan would "strongly discourage use of personal email accounts for official business, but at the same time the District needs to make such a policy clear and in writing," an office spokesman said Wednesday.

Mr. Nathan's office is working on a formal draft policy for submission to the mayor when it is finished.

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