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Washington D.C. Considers Casinos

Washington D.C. may create a commission to consider legalizing gambling, according to recent reports. The proposition, which calls for the construction of brick-and-mortar casinos in the nation’s capital, is led by council members Jack Evans and Marion Barry.

Legislation has been on-and-off for years now. The District of Columbia became the first U.S. jurisdiction to legalize online poker in April 2011, but repealed the bill in February 2012 after months of delays and contract controversies.

The original bill, led by Michael Brown in the D.C. Council, was surreptitiously snuck into a supplementary budget bill—not drafted as a stand-alone proposal. Evans, Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, said last year that legislation “should have been introduced as a free-standing bill; then we would have had the necessary hearings.”

There were also “anomalies” in the process that lead to Intralot winning the DC Lottery contract in 2009. Example: Veteran Services Corp, Intralot’s local partner, was given a 51% stake in the lottery contract, despite taking no part in the official bidding process.

Now Evans and Barry are focusing their attention on legalizing gambling in brick-and-mortar casinos in the District. The council members highlight that millions in potential tax revenues are going to casinos in Maryland and West Virginia, where D.C. residents flock to gamble. They hope the creation of the commission will be the first step to (finally) legalizing gambling in the nation’s capital.

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