- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2011


D.C. Lottery chief Buddy Roogow and other city officials are researching two scenarios I presented to them last week at an airing of the city’s online gambling law.

My first question was would several adults in the same house be able to gamble online at the same time.

Their initial response was “no.” Software would effectively firewall adults in a single-family home from essentially establishing a betting parlor.

My follow-up was this: Would several men smoking cigars, sipping brandy and using their individual laptops in the same D.C. hotel room be able to simultaneously gamble online?

They offered no definitive answer.

That’s a huge problem.

It’s huge because then-Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, Council member Michael A. Brown and other iGaming supporters were so incredibly eager to get their hands on gambling revenue that they didnt think.

So now, nearly a year later, the measure still reeks of backroom wheeling, dealing and brandy snifters.

On Sunday,Mr. Gray was in full-throttle “Do as I say, not as I do” mode Sunday at the dedication ceremony of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall.

The mayor, who spoke for several minutes, used global coverage of the event attended by President Obama, his family and other dignitaries to again throw down his “D.C.-don’t-got-no-vote-in-Congress” hammer.

“In 1966, Dr. King marched in our streets calling for an end to this injustice. He decried the plight of our residents when he said Congress had been ‘derelict in their duties and sacred responsibility to make justice and freedom a reality for all citizens in the District of Columbia.’

“As we celebrate this momentous dedication,” he continued, “I implore you, Mr. President and members of Congress: Stand with the people of the District of Columbia! Stand with the legacy of Dr. King! Remove the shackles of oppression so that, when Americans dutifully recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we truly mean ‘liberty and justice for all.’ “

While it is Mr. Gray’s prerogative — and perhaps duty, as mayor — to push for statehood and congressional voting privileges, he should not be allowed to get away with speaking out of one side of his month about congressional “shackles” when he himself shackled (and hoodwinked) residents on Internet gambling.

He knows full well that the council never allowed the public to fully weigh in on Internet gambling before the council passed the law last year.

And whats worse is Republican and Democratic members of Congress are in political cahoots with him.

According to Oct. 12 editions of Politico, Rep. Joe Barton, a conservative Republican firebrand from Texas, and Massachusetts liberal Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat, “are talking up members of the powerful deficit-slashing committee, arguing that virtual betting could boost tax revenue and even create jobs.”

We already know that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of the “great place-your-bets state of Nevada” tried to slip in a bill that would legalize online gambling last year, but Politico also reported last week that Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, “who has opposed the idea, appears to be softening.”

This is key since Congress turned a blind eye to the city’s measure, which is the first in the nation.

Local and federal lawmakers are counting the gambling dollars before they are hatched, and have bet a fortune on the prospect that D.C. residents and other Americans would go along as long as officials promise to spread the wealth.

Indeed, Ward 5 residents confirmed as much on Thursday night, when D.C. Lottery officials conducted their first-ever public meeting on their money-grubbing iGaming scheme, which would permit any adult visiting, working or living in the city to wager on blackjack, bingo and assorted games.

I’d call Mr. Gray a hypocrite if I thought name-calling would get him to do an about-face on the iGaming law.

In the meantime, hold that thought. There are other iGaming meetings this week.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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