D.C. Council Member Michael Brown says he mentioned the provision to institute online gambling through the D.C. lottery several times in public forums before the measure passed. The District would be the first state to implement online gambling as a revenue stream.
The law places no restrictions on where gambling can be authorized. Lottery officials have said they plan to certify these "hot spots" the same way they certify places that sell lottery tickets.
At Wednesday's hearing on the new law, members asked if libraries, schools, or senior centers would hosting online gaming, and lottery officials said that is not the intent. Still, council members appear skeptical of the plan, particularly the September rollout of the new games.
ORIGINAL POST: A council hearing on the plan is scheduled for later today and there are still concerns looming. The biggest question surrounding D.C.'s push to be the virtual Vegas on the Potomac remains how the city got here.
An amendment legalizing online gaming in the District was slipped into the city's budget last December by council member Michael Brown without a public hearing.
Brown says he doesn't regret that decision.
"But keep in mind I had mentioned it at several public settings and people certainly had an opportunity then," says Brown.
The Washington Post has also reported about possible conflicts-of-interest for Brown and council member Jack Evans, because they worked as lobbyists for law firms that have clients in the gaming world.
Meanwhile, campaign finance records show that on March 10, five $1,000 checks or money orders from Veteran Services Corporation and several of its employees and family members were sent to the "Friends of Michael Brown" campaign committee.
Veteran Services Corporation, or VSC, is the local partner with Intralot, the Greek company contracted by D.C. Lottery to provide the software for the online gaming. VSC owns 51 percent of the deal.
Regarding the checks, Brown says he was raising money to balance the books in order to close out the campaign committee fund.
Asked if VSC stands to gain because of the online gaming measure, Brown responded:
"So does every developer who does a deal with the city and they contribute to my colleagues all the time," Brown says. "It's all legal and that's the world we live in."