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Online gambling making strides in US capitol

The DC Council may be preparing for its June 29 enquiry into the activities of Michael A. Brown in getting online gambling approved in Washington DC, but in the meantime the DC Lottery is forging ahead with implementation, the Washington Times reported this week.

Officials are gearing up through “demonstration games” that will allow players to get their feet wet before wagering real dollars, and the lottery will soon roll out six games that include blackjack, Texas hold ‘em and bingo to kick-start the District’s plans to be the first jurisdiction in the country to offer regulated internet gambling.

There will also be public terminals known as “platinum sponsors,” according to rules published in the D.C. Register.

Players must be 19 or older and log on from within the District’s borders, the newspaper reports. Punters cannot create more than one online account or let another person use their facility.

The enquiry into Brown's activities flows from his alleged activity in incorporating the online gambling legalisation proposal into a budget bill earlier this year. So far the authorisation that followed this move has not been contested or challenged formally by Congress.

However, Brown's former employment with a Washington lobbying firm that has a general interest in online gambling has been seen as questionable, leading to the call for an enquiry.

Despite questions over its legality and the uncertainty over how or whether members of Congress may intervene, the rules published on Friday appeared to signal the first movement on actual games in the District, the Washington Times opined.

“That’s exactly what it is,” Brown, an at-large independent on the Council, said Monday.

The demo games are expected to go live in four to six weeks ahead of pay games this fall, Brown revealed. They will be free, employing a point system in lieu of wagers, and designed to let players get accustomed to the games while officials iron out any bugs in the system.

“It’s important to make sure the technology is correct,” Brown said, pointing out that security systems, for instance, must ensure “that people can’t hack in from outside D.C.”

Brown has argued that online gambling will bring millions of dollars in revenue to the District by harnessing a private pastime that is unregulated yet goes on anyway with no benefit to the city.

The base age is intended to keep high school students from logging on, without excluding the college market, he said.

According to published plans, classic gambling games such as poker will be joined by electronic instant tickets, random-number games and “Victory at Sea,” a game akin to the board game “Battleship,” Brown said.

Council member Jack Evans, chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, has scheduled a hearing on D.C. Lottery’s online plans for June 29.

Evans noted that the internet gambling measure was put into the budget bill late last year without public vetting, so it seemed appropriate to schedule testimony from the District’s chief financial officer, attorney general and others to explore how online gambling will work and why no one else in the country has done it, among other issues.

“It’s all those kinds of questions,” he told the Washington Times.

Source: InfoPowa News

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