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Online Gambling Comes to DC

By Marc J. Randazza

Washington, D.C. – not Las Vegas, Miami or Texas – is poised to be the first to allow online gaming for its residents. But it’s not without some catches.

Players must be within the city’s small borders in order to play online. Despite the gaming occurring online, the technology – possibly through IP screening – will prevent interlopers from other states where online gaming is illegal from joining in. Further restricting access, prospective players will have to go to designated “hot spots” to be dealt in. These locations will be set up by the city, and will be set up in bars, stores and other locations.

Finally, players must register for the service. This will include an age verification, much as how Vegas casinos require gamblers to play.

Intralot, a tech company, will be the District of Columbia’s point company on the project. As of now, there are no outside contractors participating on the project. The move, intended to compete with the limited gaming facilities available in nearby West Virginia, Delaware and Maryland, is intended to keep D.C. denizens from going elsewhere for their gambling needs – allowing the city to tax more revenue. Given the premium real estate goes for in D.C., the online route seems like the most prudent plan to bring gambling to the area.

At first blush, the new law seems similar to Nevada bill AB268, which seeks to bring online gaming to Nevada, and its related bills, SB103 and SB218. It remains to be seen how the new D.C. law and other pending bills will square up against Federal statutes, particularly the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 5361-67.

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