Online Gambling in the District of Columbia

District of ColumbiaSince the United States Department of Justice issued an opinion clarifying the situation regarding online gaming the race has been on to become the first state to legalise and launch online poker. It looks as if the District of Columbia may beat states like California, New Jersey and Nevada to be the first to introduce intra state online gaming.
The Department of Justice opinion referring to the Wire Act of 1961 states that “Interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to “a sporting event or contest” fall outside the reach of the Wire Act”. This has been widely accepted as opening the way for online poker and lotteries. Online gambling was illegal in the United States under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.The introduction of legal internet gambling has divided the District of Columbia Council as some council members claim that question of legalising online gambling was slipped into a budget bill without the proper public hearing into the matter. Opponents of online gaming claim that there should have been a separate bill dealing with the legalisation of internet gaming in DC and they also question the language used in the budget bill dealing with the topic. There is a move on to repeal the law legalising online gambling in DC.Those in favour of the introduction of a state run online poker system claim that the revenue brought in, a possible amount of over 13 million dollars over the next two to three years, would help to reduce the budget deficit. They also claim that it would keep money gambled on foreign based online poker sites within the district borders and could also attract players from surrounding states to the district to gamble online. The online poker system would be run by Intralot a Greek based gaming systems, sports betting services and lottery operator which is involved in a bid to run the Greek State lottery for the next 12 years. (See Article: Licence for Greek State Lottery at Stage 2).

There will be strict rules governing legalised online gaming in the District of Columbia. All players must be physically within the district’s borders and the technology to verify this is available. There is an age limit for players and also a limit on the amount to be bet per week and payments will be electronic. However these controls may not be enough for those opposed to internet gambling so it remains to be seen if the District of Columbia will be the first to have a state run online poker system or not.

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