States Announce Plans for Online Bingo-DC Reverses Course

A January news report indicated that two states in the US were set to offer online bingo in addition to poker and other casino games.  In 2010 the Washington DC council approved an igaming measure that would provide online bingo and poker services for district residents. Since congress took no action the act stood a good chance of implementation. In New Jersey state legislators passed a bill that would legalize a wide range on online gambling that includes online bingo. Although the original focus was on poker several states have indicated a desire to provide more online gambling options. Although the original New Jersey gaming bill was vetoed by Governor Christie a state senator has introduced an online gaming bill acceptable to Christie. In his original veto message Christie stated “nothing contained in the legislation would prohibit commercial establishments outside Atlantic City such as nightclubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and amusement parks from offering Internet gambling opportunities.”

Because of a December Justice Department ruling Christie is more amenable to online gaming and has indicated he will sign current proposed legislation. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School in California believes that states will move faster to implement internet gaming than they did to establish lotteries in decades past. Rose stated “The speed of the Internet is more like dog years. It is not going to take four decades. It won’t even take one decade.” Technology has rapidly advances and the federal and state governments are notoriously slow to adapt to new technologies.

Unfortunately for online bingo players the DC council has decided to reverse course and repealed the igaming measure and the district now has to start from scratch. There was an effort by councilmember Michael A. Brown to salvage the igaming measure but his refusal scrap the contract with Greek gaming company Intralot doomed his efforts to failure.  The only other vote to save the measure was by former mayor Marion Barry. Many council members said that at the time the measure was passed they didn’t know exactly what they were voting for. Barry criticized these council members and stated “What kind of legislature are you? You giving the public the impression, you didn’t know what you voted for. This council already has a low approval rating… and you are telling me, you didn’t know you voted on something?” It has been estimated that the district will lose $13.1 Million in projected revenue through 2015. In the meantime several other states have announced plans to launch internet gambling operations that include online bingo.

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