BUSINESS

Online gambling to be repealed in D.C.

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Players would have to be at least 19 years old and would be barred from wagering more than $250 a week.

(Photo courtesy quasireversible via Flickr)

A Justice Department ruling in December clarified that intrastate online gambling is legal, and several states are considering it, but so far the district and Nevada are the only jurisdictions to approve laws or regulations authorizing it.

Nevada officials hope to begin offering online poker by year's end. In the district, online gambling became law outside the normal legislative process.

The program would have been run by the D.C. Lottery and its Greece-based vendor, Intralot.

But when the council approved Intralot's $39 million contract in 2009, the contract did not specify that Intralot would be able to bring online gambling to the district.

Instead, it only included language about "nontraditional games."

The contract was later amended to specify that Intralot could implement an online gambling system.

Then, in late 2010, Brown inserted language in a supplemental budget bill that legalized online gambling in the district.

It became law last April when Congress declined to intervene.

Several councilmembers have since said they did not realize they were authorizing online gambling as part of the budget bill, and Councilmember David Catania has threatened to sue the district's chief financial officer for altering the lottery contract without council approval.

The council took testimony from the public only after the gambling program became law, and lottery officials held a series of community meetings last fall for people to express their concerns.

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