No Internet Bingo For DC Residents

For a while it looked like two states in the United States were set to offer residents legal internet bingo and gambling. Although most of the focus has been on internet poker two states indicated that they would add other casino games to their internet gambling offerings. Most industry say state by state legalization is a step in the right direction and believes that eventually it will prompt federal lawmakers to legalize internet gaming nationwide. Last year the Washington DC city council approved a deal that would establish gambling ‘hotspots’ in the city where residents could gamble online legally. Unfortunately DC residents were doomed to disappointment.

Last year all indications were that the District of Columbia would be the first in the nation to provide residents with legal internet bingo, poker and other casino games. The program was known as iGaming. Recently the Council of the District of Columbia repealed iGaming amid criticism that the measure had been approved without sufficient scrutiny and public comment. On February 7th a 10-2 vote ended the igaming program. The disputes over igaming have prompted calls for investigation into the actions of the city council.

Many observers say that the recent disputes have revealed vicious political grudges and pay to play business dealings by the council. Ann Loikow who is a civic activist and retired federal employee told reporters from the New York Times “If you’ve been around long enough, you look at some things and they just smell. There’s just enough stuff that’s not right, and this is that case — on steroids.” In 2010 the igaming measure was tacked onto a budget bill in a late night council session. Previously the council had approved a contract with a private gaming firm to operate the DC lottery and included a provision allowing other form of gambling. Council members said the council had not discussed internet gambling.

When opponents of the measure found out that igaming had been tacked onto the budget bill without their knowledge the disputes began. Michael A. Brown, the measure’s main supporter said that Michael A. Brown. “Nothing was done incorrectly or improperly. That’s just an excuse, and that’s just a copout.” The arguments resulted in the cancellation of the igaming program and council will now have to start from scratch. For online bingo players the cancellation has been a huge disappointment and it may be years before the program is implemented. Until then internet bingo players in DC will have to rely on offshore online bingo operations.