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Internet Gambling Coming to WASHINGTON D.C. 15/04/2011
Associated Press
Internet gambling will soon become permissible in the District of Columbia.

WASHINGTON – Internet gambling will soon become permissible in the District of Columbia — the first U.S. jurisdiction to allow online gaming, the Associated Press reports.

District officials are uncertain when gaming would commence, but D.C. lottery officials said they were in talks with their vendor and expect more details in the coming weeks.

The gaming is set to be operated by Intralot and would be available only to gamblers within borders of the District. While states have contemplated legalizing online poker, the District would be the first jurisdiction to actually do it.

While a 2006 federal law bans Internet gambling, prohibiting banks and credit card companies from processing payments, other details of the law are “murky,” with enough uncertainty to allow D.C. to wade into the venture.

“There was really no clear law that said we could not do this,” said D.C. Council Member Michael A. Brown, adding the hope is to generate revenue to offset budget cuts while helping social services programs.

The D.C.’s chief financial officer estimated Internet gambling could generate up to $14 million through fiscal year 2014.

Others remain skeptical of the revenue estimate, maintaining players are unlikely to migrate from their favorite site to a new one operated by the District.

“Players are really loyal in this industry,” said Jeff Ifrah, a lawyer specializing in online gaming companies. “You really have to ask yourself what is the incentive a player is going to have to leave a trusted site with global competition to play in a site that’s untested and kind of unknown and doesn’t offer you the same level of play.”

Other State Internet Gambling News
A gambling bill on Thursday cleared the Senate Ways and Means Committee 9-6, but the bill would no longer make Iowa one of the first states in the nation to legalize Internet poker.

Instead, Senate File 458 would now have the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission produce a report that would look further into the issue and what it would mean in terms of state regulation, additional gaming and underage gaming.

“It does not legalize online poker play,” said Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, the bill’s floor manager. “It just asks for a report.”

Backers of legalizing Internet poker said about 150,000 Iowans are taking part in Internet poker illegally every day and the revenue is currently benefiting offshore Internet gambling companies.

“It is not going away. Every time you turn on ESPN, you can see the advertisement for Poker Stars, Full Tilt poker – wearing them on their hats, their shirts,” Dotzler said. “That is an illegal website everywhere in the United States and they’re advertising to Iowans every time they watch that. That’s what the real problem is, they’re playing online poker illegally and we really don’t have any control over it.”

Overall, gaming lobbyists said Thursday they are pleased that the bill is moving forward, despite the action coming just two weeks before the projected end of the legislative session.

“We’re happy it’s moving. Obviously, a work in progress. We have a long ways to go and not a long time to do it,” said former state Rep. Frank Chiodo, a lobbyist for Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, The Rasmussen Group and U.S. Digital Gaming. “Yeah, we’re happy. We live to fight another day.”

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank and California Republican Rep. John Campbell have introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act (H.R. 1174), which would permit Internet wagering with federally-licensed operators. The bill was also sponsored by Colorado Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter and New York Republican Rep. Peter King.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. It is the same as the bill reported out of the Financial Services Committee last August but never considered by the full House.