DC holds online poker hearing June 29; Loveman predicts fed bill passage in 2011

TAGs: Caesars Entertainment, District of Columbia, Gary Loveman, Michael A. Brown, WSOP

DC-hearing-online-poker-loveman-federal-bill-small✖ The District of Columbia’s Finance and Revenue Committee will hold a hearing June 29 on the District’s plans to launch an intrastate online poker network. DC Council member Michael A. Brown announced the hearing via his Twitter feed Wednesday afternoon. “Learn more about lottery. Finance & Revenue Comm. Hearing re: DC Lottery’s plans to offer online games. June 29 at 10AM at the Wilson Bldg.” Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) chairs the committee.

DC’s plan to offer poker to District residents via internet hubs in bars and other ‘hot spots’ would make it the first jurisdiction in America to take that great progressive leap forward. The current timeline calls for DC Lottery partner Intralot to have a free play system up and running this summer and real money games by September.

The Washington Post welcomed news of the hearing and the increased scrutiny it will apply to “the irresponsible way the council has handled this matter.” The Post has clearly staked out its ‘nay’ position on the online poker proposal, although they’ve justified it by attacking the way the bill was passed. (Last Christmas, Brown slipped it into the city’s supplemental budget UIGEA-style: no hearing, no debate. Payback’s a bitch, ain’t it?) The Post also took another editorial swipe at Brown’s financial connections to a law firm that represented several gaming clients, even though Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan himself called such concerns a “stretch.”

Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman has also staked out a clear ‘nay’ position on a state solution to the online gambling conundrum. Caesars spent $784k in Q1 2011 lobbying federal politicians about online gambling, and they’re convinced the payoff is coming. In an appearance on Face To Face with John Ralston, Loveman said he expects to see a workable federal online poker bill passed this year.

Loveman observed that gaming was an industry that endures “periods of development breakthrough” and that online poker would be “the next great breakthrough … the new growth engine for the business.” Loveman was careful to share his bag of candy with the government, touting online poker as “a multi-billion dollar revenue opportunity’ that would create jobs “north of 10,000 … almost all of them in Nevada.” For politicians who might fear voter backlash for supporting online poker, Loveman suggested that Americans’ “bugaboo” over online gambling has “largely been put to rest” and that what’s needed is for “the political process to catch up with” the citizens it’s supposed to serve.

Quizzed by Ralston as to how he arrived at his conclusions, Caesars’ big man said all he could do was “assess the evidence available to me, synthesize it and make whatever conclusion I can draw. I know this is going to be a certain way. If asked to bring forward the evidence as to why you know that, it’s simply a conviction on some sort of principle that you believe to be the case.” We believe this is the same man who turned down the opportunity to have a presence in Macau in 2006 because he didn’t think the place had growth potential. Take the rest of his predictions accordingly.

✖ Closing on an ironic note, a ten-year veteran of the Hamburg, NY police department took third place in Event #18 at the World Series of Poker. Jeffrey Lavelle plays poker once a month with other cops and correction officers for points, of which he earned enough to receive an all-expenses-paid ($1,500 buy-in included) trip to Vegas. Lavelle earned just shy of $322k – about five years’ salary – for his poker prowess. As per his poker club’s rules, Lavelle’s buddies at home will each receive about $3k of his take. (Socialism alert!)

We offer a hearty congrats to the overachieving amateur, but we can’t help feel conflicted about Lavelle’s win. After all, it was just two weeks ago we were treated to the spectacle of Maryland cops holding an oversized $470k check – their cut of the cash seized by the DoJ on Blue Monday. Seriously, it just seems that they’re getting us coming and going these days, that’s all.


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