D.C. Council faulted on Internet gambling

Inspector cites need for rebid

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Supporters of the program tout its potential impact on the District’s economy and say the lottery should attract a demographic with disposable income. Proponents also say the weekly betting limit of $250 is a sufficient safeguard against serious losses.

The U.S. Department of Justice opened the door to online gaming via state lottery systems, a reversal of its position, in a recent opinion that addressed whether Illinois and New York can use out-of-state transaction processors to sell lottery tickets to adults within their borders.

Mr. Brown, who openly pushed the program at Mr. Evans‘ hearing, said the District is ruining its chance to grab the market share of Internet gambling while regulating a habit that D.C. residents indulged in anyway through offshore websites.

While other states toyed with the revenue generator, he said, “we in the District of Columbia did not wait.”

Opponents of the program say online gambling is risky business and the District should not be the first in the nation to try it. It places senior citizens at risk, they say, government and gambling should not mix, and they do not support the 50 percent split of profit between the lottery system and its vendor.

The program’s most vocal critic, Marie Drissel, was one of more than 100 witnesses who signed up to testify on the program at Thursday’s hearing.

“The law’s passage represented a reckless disregard for the public,” she said, citing problems with the lottery contract and a lack of transparency about the program’s implementation.

While some of his colleagues pushed back on the program, council member Marion Barry criticized lottery officials and the chief financial officer for not moving fast enough.

“I don’t think we ought to back up on this,” said Mr. Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, who noted that the council approved it as law. “It’s not my fault, it’s not Mr. Brown’s fault, that some members of the council didn’t read this.”

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