Online Poker May Be Coming to Washington, DC
In breaking news from Washington, DC, the nation’s capital has apparently become the first jurisdiction to legalize intrastate online poker. According to a Wall Street Journal article published on Friday, “The city council approved a budget last year allowing the district’s lottery to operate a poker website accessible only inside district boundaries. City officials say the window for Congress to raise objections to the law was due to expire Thursday, allowing it to take effect.”
No online poker site has yet taken form in Washington, DC, whose resident lawmakers were negotiating down to the wire last night to avoid the first government shutdown since the mid-1990s. Also, whether the United States Department of Justice will stand idly by while an online poker site is launched in its backyard remains to be seen. The Department of Justice did not comment to the Journal about its position.
When will we be seeing online poker coming to the District? Next week? Next month? Next year? The Journal revealed, “The lottery hopes to have the poker system operating in a test run available in certain select spots, such as hotels, by the end of the year… It could still be stymied, however, if the technology to keep out people from outside the district proves ineffective, or if Congress takes additional action.”
The Journal quotes Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas as saying that he didn’t believe the market in the District of Columbia was large enough “to create a viable business.” He added, however, that it might help expedite Federal legislation to bring the industry entirely above board. After all, Capitol Hill is located in Washington, DC.
Last month, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have created the nation’s first intrastate internet gambling market. Christie asked the state’s Assembly to take up the issue, explaining in his veto, “If the Legislature believes that expanding gambling outside of Atlantic City is in the best interests of the State of New Jersey, it should place the question on the ballot for the voters to decide.”
So far, no referendum has taken shape in the Garden State.
Other states like California, Nevada, and Iowa have also been racing to become the test pilots for internet gambling. In Iowa, State Senator Jeff Danielson admitted that his online poker bill is most likely drawing dead in 2011, telling the Associated Press, “I just think people need a clearer picture of the evidence and I don’t think they’re ready in this session to legalize it. So we want to give them the best information possible as we go into next year.”
In the final week of March, the Nevada Assembly Committee on Judiciary held a hearing to discuss AB 258, introduced by Assembly Majority Whip William Horne. The legislation legalizes intrastate online poker and reportedly has the backing of PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site. The PPA has also come out in favor of AB 258, although no vote has been scheduled.
The Washington, DC budget provision also allows the nation’s capital to operate a fantasy sports site. Its online poker venture could bring in as much as $13 million over three years, or $4.3 million annually.
In an accompanying Wall Street Journal poll, 45% of voters answered “None at all” to the question, “Intrastate, interstate, none at all – What forms of internet gambling should be legal?” 12% answered “Intrastate,” while the remainder selected “Interstate.”
Only time will tell whether online poker will be coming to Washington, DC. Rest assured that if it does, we’ll keep you posted right here on Poker News Daily.
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