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!