D.C. Legalizes Online Poker

by Lou on April 12, 2011

Excuse the irony, but the District of Columbia—yes that same seat of ponderous bureaucracy where so many anti-online poker efforts have begun—became the first US jurisdiction to enact enabling legislation that would allow online poker within the District.

The “Lottery Modernization Act of 2010” is part of the DC Council’s larger budget bill that was enacted after an “unblocked” passage through Congress. The act changes prior gaming law in the District of Columbia by redefining the term “lotteries” to allow games of skill such as poker.

The DC Lottery can now offer poker over the Internet to players located within the District. But don’t look for a game just yet; additional steps are required before the DC government can actually “shuffle up and deal.” Nevertheless, this is a first step toward legalized online poker in other states, and perhaps nationally too.

Before any cards are in the air, DC’s municipal government needs to set out regulations governing terms of play.   In addition, DC regulations that now refer to the lottery as a “game of chance” need amending so they conform to the new definition of “lottery.”

Regulations for administering online gaming also need to be drafted and go through a public comment period. Then the DC Lottery will have to decide which online games to introduce, and work with vendors to implement them.

The significance of the new law is not in the poker games itself.  In fact, I strongly suspect that the District’s small population will not be able to support many online games, but never mind that.  What matters most is that a US jurisdiction has enacted legislation authorizing online poker. That’s what counts.

What we can hope for now is that the passage of this legislation in DC will serve as impetus for other states to begin to offer online poker to their residents too.

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