Monday, July 11, 2011

Was gambling really delayed in DC?

Following the Finance Committee hearing this month, the DC Lottery agreed to delay implementation of its mini-casino plan a.k.a. “hot spots,” until there are rules for community input.

Councilmember Jack Evans, in a press release immediately following the hearing on gambling, made it clear that there needs to be "community meetings to ensure residents have ample time to consider i-Gaming locations prior to any decisions being made."

The DC Lottery intends to begin demonstration games late this month and originally had planned to start cash gambling Sept. 8.

There are two problems with Evan’s actions.

The first is that it lacks specifics.

Evans was interviewed by The Current (download PDF, story begins on front page) and is quoted as saying that the process for implementing hot spots should be delayed “‘for two months, maybe even longer.’ ” But the story goes on to say that “he has no objection to the lottery board launching its planned no-money trial of its online games later this month, or rolling out the pay games on Sept. 8.”

Let's try to parse out what this means.

The ward-by-ward public hearings sought by Evans can’t be held until September, at the earliest. Many of the ANCs have already held their final meetings for the summer, and August is no month to hold hearings on such an important issue.

Once the hearings are held, the DC Lottery still has to deliver a plan for notifying neighborhoods of proposed mini-casino locations and soliciting input. Whether the DC Lottery can deliver a satisfactory plan for neighborhood input is a big question, since the Lottery may be more interested in developing a plan for minimizing neighborhood meddling.

The Current story also suggests that cash betting may still begin on Sept. 8. How is that possible?  DC Lottery could try to set up a mini-casino in downtown, or try to make it available to private homes that meet its conditions for a fixed IP address.

But a second and more serious problem with Evan’s hearing plan is its premise (See Evan's press release PDF).

Evan's action to delay implementation presupposes that the only issue to be resolved is the process for community input of hot spot locations. This community has not yet debated whether it wants this expansion of gambling. A lot of people, it can be assumed, don’t want it at all, but their voices have been shut down by the legislative process.

Keep in mind that the only public hearing ever held on DC’s new gambling law was held after the law was approved.

No comments:

Post a Comment