City council: Online gambling start may be delayed in D.C.

(AP, TBD) - The District of Columbia Council might delay the launch of the nation's first government-run online gambling venture.

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Council member Jack Evans said at a committee hearing Wednesday that the Sept. 8 launch date wouldn't give residents enough opportunity to object if they don't like the idea of local businesses becoming gambling hubs.

"I don't believe there's enough time to notify residents, ANC’s and get feedback as to whether they want these things in their neighborhoods,” Evans said.

One ANC member at the hearing agreed, “We have to get this out in the open and we have to make sure the public is participating in these discussions and that's really critical,” said Andy Litski, from the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D.

Council member Michael A. Brown slipped the measure into a supplemental budget bill that was approved in December, and it became law in April when Congress declined to intervene.

Brown insists the gambling provision was publicly posted in a December meeting.

“I was on the agenda to brief my colleagues and I did that,” he said.

Now, council members are taking a closer look at the plans as the D.C. Lottery prepares to offer online poker, blackjack, virtual slot machines and other games by Sept. 8, initially at businesses.

Council members are split over the timeline. Questions also remain over home usage and how many online accounts will be available.

While online gambling is essentially banned in the U.S., federal law does not prohibit states from authorizing it within their borders.

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