Nation's Capital Bets Online Poker Is Lawful

Washington, D.C., is poised to become the first place in the U.S. to allow online poker, challenging the federal government’s effective ban on the practice in its own backyard.

The city council approved a budget last year allowing the district’s lottery to operate a poker website accessible only inside district boundaries. City officials say the window for Congress to raise objections to the law was due to expire Thursday, allowing it to take effect.

Opening the district to online gambling could make the nation’s capital the first test case for “intrastate” online poker, which allows only players within a state–or the district–to gamble on a site.

States including Florida, California and Nevada are also debating bills to implement intrastate gambling, in part as a way to raise revenue in the face of big budget deficits. The district estimates online gambling could bring in around $13 million over three years, beginning in 2012.
A similar measure was recently vetoed by New Jersey’s governor.

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