BUSINESS

Online gambling to be repealed in D.C.

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Civic activists have raised concerns about the security of the software and the broad discretion given to the lottery agency and CFO Natwar Gandhi to run the program.

(Photo courtesy quasireversible via Flickr)

People who attended the forums supported online gambling by a more than 2-to-1 margin, Brown said.

Evans said Tuesday that competitive bidding would need to be part of any future effort to legalize online gambling in order to ensure that the district, not Intralot, would be the chief beneficiary of the program.

Catania and Councilmember Muriel Bowser, who are on the Finance and Revenue Committee that's chaired by Evans, also intend to vote for repeal. The two other committee members, Brown and Marion Barry, want to see the program go forward.

Brown has pushed online gambling as a source of needed revenue - Gandhi's office has estimated it would bring in $13 million over four years - and said it would protect Internet poker players who currently use illegal offshore sites.

"There will continue to be thousands of residents playing unprotected, and there has yet to be anyone that has shown outrage for that," Brown said. In addition to Evans, Bowser and Catania, at least three other members of the 12-person council support repeal:

Jim Graham, Phil Mendelson and Tommy Wells, who introduced the bill. Council Chairman Kwame Brown has not taken a position on repeal but has said numerous times that he opposes all gambling.

Mayor Vincent Gray also wants to see online gambling repealed, said his spokesman, Pedro Ribeiro. "It's become such a divisive issue. It's not critical to the fiscal needs of the city," Ribeiro said. "It's just better to stop this, take a few steps back, take a deep breath and figure out where to go from here."

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