Repeal May Not Be End of Story for Online Gaming in D.C.

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On February 7, 2012, the D.C. Council voted 10-2 to repeal the city’s iGaming program, which would have made the District of Columbia the first U.S. jurisdiction to permit the playing of online poker for money.

In April 2011, the District had become the first U.S. jurisdiction to enact a law that permitted online poker wagering.  The amendment was part of a larger budget bill passed by the D.C. Council in December 2010 and was enacted after passing through Congress unblocked.

The process by which the bill was approved drew fire from many critics, who said that many council members didn’t know that they were voting to approve online poker when they voted for the budget bill, nor were most city residents informed about the bill.

Those procedural concerns played a major role in the repeal. On February 1, 2012, however, the Council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue voted 3-2 to repeal the bill, sending it to the full council for a repeal vote. Council Chairman Kwame Brown asked that the repeal bill be placed on the legislative agenda for a quick vote, which occurred on February 7. Mayor Vincent Gray had formerly indicated that he thought the iGaming program had been given a proper vetting before passage but changed his mind in favor of repeal this week.

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