Thursday, February 2, 2012

DC Council Votes on Repealing iGaming (Updated with Votes)

On January 26, the DC Council's Committee on Finance and Revenue held a hearing to review the iGaming repeal legislation proposed by two members outside of the Committee - Tommy Wells & Phil Mendelson.  It was broken up into two segments - Morning and Evening. 

A video of the morning session with Government witnesses is here.

The evening session featured a number of our excellent friends and can be seen HERE; with timeline tags.
  • Eric Prag: 15:25;
  • Allison Hazen: 25:55;
  • Richard Meyer: 33:35
  • A number of our other friends spoke later in the evening session.
Thank you very much for voicing your support for our right to play poker online and in a safe, regulated environment!  If you see any of these patriots around - Buy them a drink!
A tally of hearing testifiers put the numbers FOR iGaming around 70% of those who spoke at the hearing, which tracked well with the DC Lottery's recent public opinion report on iGaming, which stated 68% were FOR iGaming at the 8 city-wide community meetings.
UNFORTUNATELY, a few days later, Chairman Evans decided to put the repeal legislation to a vote.  Largely citing the contracting process as a reason (NOT online gaming in general), 3 members out of the 5 member panel voted to report the repeal legislation (which would eliminate iGaming from DC law) out of the Committee to the Full Committee for a vote. 
The full council vote on this legislation is scheduled for next week.  Updates to come. 

***UPDATE: The Full Committee did, in fact, repeal the iGaming legislation the following week - Here are the articles following the votes.

This is a setback in our efforts to see online poker and other games legalized and available to us to enjoy.  It seems as though, as Councilman Brown stated, "this council is going against the will of the people," that iGaming may be delayed even further as countless other states take action on implementing iGaming in their jurisdictions.
Again, thank you Allison, Richard and everyone else who took time out of their busy schedules to voice your support for online poker!  As has been the case for the last several years, there will be more work to do before we can have a safe and regulated place to play.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

DoJ allows for Internet Poker? & A City Council Hearing - Thurs. January 26!

Well, Well...  There's been a lot going on in the Online Poker/Gaming world since the DC Lottery concluded its 8 community hearings gathering citizen input on their plans to move forward with offering online poker and other games. 

Here are two notable developments and a Call to Action!

1) The Department of Justice delivered this memorandum opinion (responding to an inquiry from the New York and Illinois lotteries) on whether or not it is legal under the Wire Act of 1961 to offer their services (Lottery tickets, etc.) over the internet in addition to conventional offerings - over the counter tickets or at in-person convenience store terminals, etc. 

     In a nutshell, the legal opinion's interpretation clears the way for states to offer non-sports gambling over the internet to residents within their respective borders... 

     What does this mean for online poker/gaming? 

     Well finally, a State (whether through their state lottery or another service) now has 
a legal precedent to point to allowing them to offer gambling services online.

Here's a video from CNBC discussing the DoJ ruling and some other articles discussing the subject in detail:

2) DC Community Meeting Results - It seems that DC Lottery officials plan to go over (at a DC City Council hearing on January 26) their findings gathered at the the 8 community ward meetings held late last year.  They are saying that well over 2/3 of attendees approved of iGaming and welcomed its arrival - while most of the remaining attendees were uncertain or indifferent.
  • The Lottery put out a powerpoint of the results here.
  • The City Council hearing announcement is here.
  • The Washington Times covered the hearing here.  And the results of the community meetings are here.
  • And the DCist did a good write-up of both here.

3) Want to testify at the DC City Council hearing?  LET ME KNOW!
This particular hearing is unique in that it will be broken up into two parts:
1) a morning session starting at 10am and
2) an evening session resuming the hearing, which will start at 6pm.
This hearing's unique 2 time format is intended to allow for people, like yourself, with possibly demanding day jobs, to have the opportunity, if you can't testify during the day, to testify during the evening portion as well.  We're talking about 1-3 minutes of testimony.

Sign up online here:
     Title or Hearing of Roundtable: "I-Gaming and Lottery Amendment Repeal Act"
     Committee Holding the Hearing: "Finance and Revenue"



The Matter of i-gaming and Bill 19-474, the “Lottery Amendment Repeal Act of 2011”

Thursday, January 26, 2012
10:00 a.m. until end or 1:00 p.m. recess, resuming at 6:00 p.m.

Room 412 - John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW; Washington, D.C. 20004

The Committee invites the public to testify at the hearing. Those who wish to testify should contact Sarina Loy, Committee Assistant at (202) 724-8058 or, and provide your name, organizational affiliation (if any), and title with the organization by 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 25, 2012. Witnesses may specify whether they would like to testify at the 10:00 a.m. portion or the 6:00 p.m. portion. Witnesses should bring 15 copies of their written testimony to the hearing. The Committee allows individuals 3 minutes to provide oral testimony in order to permit each witness an opportunity to be heard. Additional written statements are encouraged and will be made part of the official record. Written statements may be submitted by e-mail to or mailed to: Council of the District of Columbia; 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.; Suite 114; Washington D.C. 20004

Here's the official link for the hearing notice:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Last Night's Ward 6 Community Meeting

UPDATED 11/23/11 with some local news links.

Last night, Ward 6 residents Allison Hazen, Molissa Farber, Jim Richards, Rick Howard, Adam Axler, Chris Jeon, Eric Melancon, Mike Nicholson, Yvonne Mattiello, Mike Crowley, Yenu Woldehana, Alex Haurek, Ray Hubbard and yours truly ... along with other DC residents Billy Kinberg, Andy Oxfeld, Rae McClary, Chuck Perry, Wayne Bonomo, Joe Cobb and several others I am accidentally omitting - attended the final DC Lottery Community meeting at historic Eastern Market to discuss the iGaming program.

In what was the most well attended meeting yet, the room was overwhelmed with support for the iGaming program.  I estimate there were ~80 people in the room.  Of the ~40 people who gave oral comments, ~35 of them voiced their support for online gaming.  The few who gave relevant articulate comments against iGaming seemed to feel disappointed or unhappy that they were not consulted as a part of last year's iGaming legislative track.

Of the many Ward 6 residents in attendance, many thanks go to Allison Hazen, Molissa Farber, Jim Richards, Adam Axler, Yvonne Mattiello, and Billy Kinberg who gave compelling commentary to the Lottery and to the two Councilmen in the room - Ward 6's Tommy Wells & Michael Brown (At-Large) - about their feelings on iGaming and experiences with online gaming as it has existed.

Here are a number of links to the comments of those Ward 6 residents that chose to write them down before delivering them Monday night.
  • The Jewish Girl - Wrote a firey blog post recounting the meeting and the issue in general in more elaborate detail than I think I ever could. 
  • Yvonne Mattiello (with sign language interpreter) - Presented on behalf of the Deaf Community at Gallaudet on why online gaming is a preferred way for the deaf to play skill/chance games.  She also mentioned how the revenue generated could trickle down to helping people with disabilities such as the deaf.
  • Allison Hazen - Talked to the type of player that plays online games and to the losses suffered by many due to the seizure and improper handling of player funds by offshore companies, and contradicted many of the claims made some anti-online gaming folks.  She pointed out that teacher's jobs could be saved by the extra revenue brought in.
I urge you to take a moment, click, and read these three different takes on iGaming from Ward 6 residents.  I do not think I could say it better. 

I am glad that Councilman Wells was willing and able to attend and hear from his voting bloc.  (Not every Ward member chose to or was able to attend their scheduled meeting.)  I was a bit surprised by his tweets during the meeting, which I saw today, but ultimately it seemed like he and others in attendance learned a lot about iGaming that they were previously unaware up or for whatever reason, hadn't been adequately briefed on.  Let's hope it makes a difference!

Local News so far:
Washington Post 11/22/11 - Debonis
Washington Times 11/28/11 - Howell
DCist 11/29/11 - Morrissey

Not so Local News:
Reviewed Casino - 11/23/11
Advisor - 11/24/11

NEXT MEETING:  Ward 6's Community meeting was the final one of the series put on by the Lottery.  I think there is going to be another council hearing at some point in the near future - Will update.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Last Night's Ward 2 Community meeting

Last night, Ward 2 residents Billy Kinberg and Ben Colbert; and I attended the DC Lottery's community meeting discussing their online gaming roll out.

I am happy to report that the room was filled again by pro-iGaming DC residents who made up a strong majority of the room.  Out of ~20 Ward 2 residents, only one of them voiced opposition to iGaming legislation, the rest voiced support.  The remaining non-Ward 2 residents numbered around 15 or so, and an overwhelming majority of them voiced their support for online gaming as well. 

Many thanks to Billy and Ben who both gave wonderful comments on their hope DC moves forward with the iGaming initiative.

After the meeting, I spoke briefly with the one of the folks that has been quite vocal against the passage of iGaming.  She mentioned she was unhappy with the law and suggested that the law gives sole oversight to the DC CFO's office in determining the direction of iGaming. 

I really do not see any merit to these arguments.  Is the status quo of international companies like Full Tilt, Ultimate Bet (federally indicted) and BoDog (currently operating) which are operating out of places like South Korea, Ireland, and the Caribbean a better alternative to a government run iGaming site?  

Many of us have lost many dollars playing on unsafe, unregulated, internationally run sites.  A government run option is clearly a better and safer alternative - The preferred alternative for anyone who has ever played these entertaining games. 

No one will be forced to play.  In fact, many will not be able to play because of the system's necessary requirements that players have a) a bank account, b) a computer, and c) an approved internet connection.  Many of DC's neediest people unfortunately do not meet some of these requirements and thus would not be able to get on the website.

Someone has to manage an iGaming site and delaying its implementation will only put more players in danger, not to mention all the rake dollars being siphoned off to these overseas companies.  If that someone performs poorly or mismanages iGaming monies...well...all the better that we will have the capability to petition the government for their removal.


If you can come, please let me know!  We need your voice out there!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Last Night's Ward 1 Community Meeting

Last night, Ward 1 Residents Joe Cobb and Chuck Perry and I attended the Ward 1 Community meeting held by the DC Lottery to inform and receive comments from residents regarding the online gaming platform - iGaming - that is coming to the District.

I am very happy to report that the room (~40 attendees) was dominated (at least 80% of the comments were pro-iGaming) by those in favor of online gaming.  There were some Ward 1 residents in the crowd asking some interesting questions and seemed on the fence about iGaming - curious about iGaming's impact on the community. 

The Lottery chief answered their questions. 
  1. Will businesses be able to opt out of iGaming from their locations?
    • Yes, any business IP address and location will have to be approved for access to the iGaming website.  The business would have to apply for its location to have access to the site.  Conversely, any business can opt-out and easily block access to the iGaming site as well. 
  2. Will Neighborhoods associations be consulted, let known where iGaming is happening?  (This was the gist of one question.  I don't remember it exactly.)
    • Yes, information on Secure iGaming Locations will be accessible to the public.  Also, anyone or any business can opt-out.
  3. Will folks be able to play from home?
    • Yes, folks will be able to play from home, on their own approved computer device.  19 years and older, with a bank account.
  4. Will people be capable of playing at schools, federal buildings, libraries, etc.?
    • No.  IP addresses at those locations, in addition to other Internet Signal Blocking technologies will be used to disallow anyone at these locations access to the iGaming platform.
Only one guy stood up avidly opposed to iGaming.  (He was from Ward 6 and seemed to be real angry that Ward 6's meeting was rescheduled from last week to late November.  *The Lottery posted the reschedule notice just 3 days before it was scheduled to happen.)

Kudos to Joe Cobb for giving a compelling speech noting that he like many others would save lots of money if they were allowed to play Poker in their homes instead of having to pay significant commuting costs to get to out-of-town casinos.  He mentioned he does not like the Weekly Loss Limit Cap as citizens should be able to wager their own money to their heart's content - (I do like the weekly loss limit and we argued about it later.). 
P.S. I know I spend at least $130/trip back/forth from the Showboat.

I haven't seen any news bits to come out yet about this meeting.  I'll update if it does. 

Next meeting: Thursday, November 10 - Ward 3 - Palisades Library - 4901 V St. NW - 6:30-8pm.

Let me know if you can/will come!!!

Love to see your voice out there!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tomorrow's Online Gaming Meeting in Ward 1! ... and Recap from Ward 7.

Tomorrow, November 1st, the DC Lottery is hosting it's 4th community meeting on Online gaming in Ward 1 at the Marie Reed Learning Center, 2200 Champlain St. NW from 6:30pm-8:00pm. 

Marie Reed Learning Center
2200 Champlain St. NW

Let me know if you would like to come!

Here's the Lottery's site on iGaming:

Brief Recap of the Ward 7 Meeting Two Weeks Ago

Charles Phaneuf, Rae McClary and I attended the Ward 7 meeting on Oct 18th - This one was very similar to the previous two DC Lottery meetings discussing Online gaming and Online Poker.  There were ~25 people in attendance, including Ward 7 Councilwoman Yvette Alexander and crowd of mostly Ward 7 citizens.

After the Lottery's presentation, the various Ward citizens present were given an opportunity to chime in about the presentation and what they thought about online gaming.  Even I was surprised to hear and see that 90+% were in favor of online gaming.  Many of them mentioned their travels to AC to play various games and several advocated for online poker!  The two or three concerned people that spoke expressed misgivings that they probably would not be able to participate in the games because they didn't meet some of the eligibility requirements necessary to play, namely:
  1. Must have a bank account/debit account
  2. Must have your own computer (Play is restricted at all libraries, schools, in federal buildings, etc.)
Personally, I find these consumer protection provisions refreshing - especially the one no one mentioned - the $250 weekly loss cap. 

I got the impression that Yvette Alexander herself seemed surprised at the tenor of a majority of her constituents in attendance.  *Note - this is not a direct quote* but she mentioned her interest and support of new and innovative revenue generators to help out social services programs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Last Night's Community Meeting in Petworth - Ward 4

Last night, Allison Hazen and I attended the Community Meeting in Petworth to hear what the Lottery had to say about the DC's iGaming initiative and hear from and talk to residents about iGaming.

~50 people attended from across Ward 4 and a few other interested people, including Councilmembers Bowser and Brown.

Overall, I would estimate that ~70% of the people in attendance spoke in support of iGaming and online Poker and the rest were concerned with the process of how iGaming was to be implemented and where the revenue would eventually be allocated.  Some also spoke to concerns about not being given timely notification regarding iGaming's legislative passage in the FY 2011 Supplemental Budget Support Act of 2010.

There were ~10 poker players in attendance.  All had great stories to tell and were great faces for the poker community.  Thank you all for speaking up! 

I really think those in the audience that probably do not have the regular opportunity to see the sincere, quality people that play online games (like poker) left the meeting with a positive perspective on iGaming after hearing you speak!

Up next...
According to the Lottery's iGaming website the meeting in Ward 6 has been pushed back a week to Thursday, October 27 - 6:30pm. (EDITOR: IT'S BEEN PUSHED BACK AGAIN TO LATE NOVEMBER)

Next meeting: Ward 1 - Marie Reed Learning Center - 2200 Champlain St., NW - 6:30pm

See here for October:
We need more of your excellent voices out there!