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20 to 30 gambling 'hot spots' initially envisaged in DC

Washington DC sources have expanded on their plans following the 'legalisation of online gambling by default' in the nation's capital last week. The Washington Post reports that there are initial plans afoot to set up 20 to 30 online gambling “hot spots” in hotels, bars, clubs and other venues across the city by around September 1, providing access for online gamblers to the DC Lotteries internet offerings, which will include casino and poker games, and betting on fantasy sports.

"By the end of the year - if Congress doesn’t revisit the issue, and if the technology works as promised - adults in the District wouldn’t even need to go to such places to gamble. Instead, they would be able to key in their payment details on their home laptops to play a virtual hand or two of city-sanctioned poker," the Washington Post explains.

Washington Mayor Vincent C. Gray signed the new law - part of the 2011 budget - into law in January, and last week, the 30-day period for Congress to object to the plan expired, setting the stage for the city to move into online gambling - the first US state so to do.

However, the newspaper cautions, even after the review period, Congress can intervene.

Frederick Hill, spokesman for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which covers District affairs warned: “If the committee has a concern that a practice is either illegal or not in the interests of the federal taxpayers who support the District of Columbia, the committee could certainly raise a concern.”

He added, however, that at present the panel has no plans to introduce legislation or hold a hearing on the matter.

The online gambling program could generate $13.1 million between the 2012 and 2014 fiscal years, according to the chief financial officer’s analysis. Money would be collected from table fees to join the poker games and from taxes on winnings of $600 or more, D.C. Lottery officials said. The city has signed a 50-50 revenue-sharing agreement with Intralot USA, which would develop and manage D.C.’s gambling site.

Mayor Gray called told the Washington Post: “We know that many of our residents are currently engaged in online gaming, but are doing so with off-shore companies. Our goal is simply to regulate the business in the District and to ensure that the District receives its fair share of the financial benefits produced by online gaming.”

A no-stakes gambling Web site would be rolled out by about July 1, and residents of Washington DC would be able to play for real money at dozens of hot spots by around September 1, said Buddy Roogow, executive director of the D.C. Lottery. The city Convention Center was likely to be one of 20 to 30 hot spots, but the regulations are still being drafted, he advised.

“That would be an ideal kind of location for a hot spot, Roogow said. "So are hotels. There’s only one Convention Center. There are many hotels." Gamblers would need to bring their own computers to place bets at the hot spots, he said.

Before gambling for money can spread to people’s homes, officials would need to ensure that betting was available only within the geographic limits of the District. They expect to do that by the end of the year, the newspaper reports.

Source: InfoPowa News

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