Online Poker Could Become Lawful in US Capital of Washington, D.C. by Next Week

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Washington, D.C. Online Poker

Lawmakers have until April 14 to object to a budget that permits Washington, D.C.’s lottery to operate a poker website accessible only inside district boundaries.  While the population of the US capital is just shy of 600,000, becoming the first jurisdiction in the United States to legalize Internet poker would be seen as a huge step for the industry.

Two states, New Jersey and Iowa, failed to pass similar intrastate legislation last month.  Nevada, Florida and California are still debating the idea.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Proponents of the intrastate approach say it should pass legal muster, in part because the federal government hasn't raised objections to some lotteries offering gambling products for state residents online for the past few years. Proponents interpret that as a tacit endorsement of online gambling as long as it stays inside the state. The Justice Department hasn't weighed in publicly on the state proposals and had no comment.

The district's move also shows the growing role that lotteries are playing in states trying to introduce online gambling. Some states have taken early steps in that direction, including Minnesota and New York, which allow players to buy an online subscription for their state lotteries.

Online gambling services are essential for lotteries to keep pace with a younger generation of social media-oriented players, said Buddy Roogow, executive director of D.C. Lottery. The lottery's sales have been declining for four years.

Roogow told the WSJ, "States need the revenue. And whether it's the lottery or someone else, [online gambling is] going to be available anyway."

Presumably the D.C. online poker site will be accessible to those who work and visit the District since test spots are slated to include various hotels. 

D.C. City Councilman Michael Brown introduced the bill as a means of solving the district’s budget woes. 

Canada has already introduced online casino games as part of its provincial lotteries.  Last summer, the British Columbia Lottery launched its website, allowing residents to play casino games such as blackjack, roulette and craps via the Web.  They also permit bingo, sports betting and lottery.  Online poker was introduced late last year.  One can use their Visa or Master Card to join. 

The launch did not come without some highly publicized snafus.  The lottery admitted that some 134 user accounts were compromised as a result of security glitches. 

Regardless of what transpires by next Thursday, online poker will not be available in Washington, D.C. until it can be demonstrated that those residing outside the nation’s capital are unable to gain access. 

- Christopher Costigan, Publisher


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