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Online gambling to be repealed in D.C.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - After becoming the first jurisdiction in the nation to legalize online gambling within its borders, the District of Columbia is poised to repeal the program before it launches.

(Photo courtesy quasireversible via Flickr)

The strong backlash on the D.C. Council to the district's online gambling program has little to do with moral opposition to gambling. Instead, councilmembers are upset with the way it became law, saying they didn't realize they had voted to approve it.

Councilmember Jack Evans told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he plans to move a repeal bill out of his finance and revenue committee on Wednesday.

Evans also said he would vote for the repeal bill when it goes before the full council, and the bill appears to have the support of a majority of councilmembers.

Evans, a Ward 2 Democrat, said neither the council nor the public was given enough opportunity to weigh in on the program before it became law.

He also said he was troubled by a report from the district's Inspector General that raised questions about changes to the district's contract with its lottery vendor that paved the way for online gambling.

"We just need to start over," he said, adding that he had no plans to introduce a bill. Councilmember Michael A. Brown, who has led the push in the district for online gambling, said he would introduce a new bill if the repeal is successful.

"Most of the folks that are supporting the repeal are OK with" online gambling, Brown said. "They just want to start the process all over, which I find curious."

Brown warned that offering online games later may mean the district would no longer experience the "revenue bonanza" it would receive by being the first jurisdiction to offer the games.

The program would have allowed people using computers inside the district to play online poker, blackjack and other games of skill and chance.

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