Dear PoP – DC government planning to open online gambling site, set up gambling parlors in libraries? seriously?

Photo by flickr user Orin Zebest

“Dear PoP,

Just saw this article in the Post:

The bright glass-and-copper library on Benning Road NE just beyond the Anacostia River opened last year as an anchor for redevelopment and a refuge for the mind.

Now, District officials are deciding whether they should use the gleaming outpost in a depressed section of the city for another pioneering purpose: as a gateway to online gambling and the promise of millions of dollars in government revenue.

If I am reading this correctly, the DC government is going to set up an online gambling site using public safety infrastructure, then install computer terminals in libraries to allow people to gamble!!!  This was apparently snuck into some bill by Michael Brown.  I can’t imagine a more egregious and horrifying thing for the city government to do and I hope you will spread the word to maybe stop this from happening.

I honestly think this is the most shocking and outrageous idea that council has ever cooked up.”

We spoke about DC launching on line gambling sites here and here.

The Post article also says:

Library officials are considering how to approach the gambling venture. Library spokesman George Williams said the libraries “are looking at everything. We haven’t made a decision yes or no at this moment.”

Michael Brown, the council member who played a central role in advancing gambling in the District, said that it’s not appropriate everywhere. “I would not like to see folks being able to play at a library or a rec center,” he said.

So if it does go live – where, if at all, do you think this gambling should be allowed?

66 Comment

  • Casinos should be allowed. Online gambling should too. In libraries though? No way. The same reason you shouldn’t have porn in libraries- it encourages loitering and lewd activity. Inside the comfort of one’s home or in a casino, it’s just keeping up with what other states are doing. Not sure how you’d ensure IP addresses were only within the District though…

    Talk about a HUGE revenue generator. We’d be milking MD and VA of all the money they take from us by working here, using our roads, and taking their income and (most of their) sales tax dollars elsewhere.

  • This can’t be real. Youths and the homeless, two of the most vulnerable, fragile and unfortunate segments of the District’s population will be most at risk here, because they are the ones who use libraries the most.

    I’m sure the council has good intentions and they envision wealthy high rollers in pinstripe suits gambling in our libraries, but sadly, that is not who will be wasting the money that should be going toward feeding themselves and their families, and buying basic items like new pairs of shoes.

    • There are plenty of problems with this plan, but the risk that youths and the homeless will spend all their money gambling in the library is non-existent. These won’t be nickel slot machines; it’s online poker,requiring a valid credit card, something very few youths or homeless people have.

      • So we’ll have more people mugged for their credit cards. Great…

        • Bullshit.

          Gambling in the library is still an atrocious idea. but to say its going to lead to youth and homeless mugging people so they can use the credit cards to go gamble at the library is a gigantic leap into the speculative realm.

          • +1

            If they won any money wouldn’t they credit to your account? Which they couldn’t access.

          • Chris:

            I don’t know how it would work if it was fully legal, but right now in the gray area that is online poker you get a check mailed to you by a bank in the Caymans. It’s been a few years since I played though, and that might be different now.

  • the terminals will never happen. that’s an afterthought. i think the real idea here is to legalize online gambling in the district so that companies will set up shop … in droves. then, we’ll proceed to tax the bejesus out of them.

    then we’ll be able to fix the potholes and hire more cops and send more kids to camp and subsidize more teen summer jobs and offer more scholarships and renovate more areas and so on and so on

    • Right before organized crime moves in to supply “credit cards” to those who can’t get them, then break knees for people who could never afford the debts.

      Naivete, your name is DC.

  • Gambling, yes. If DC has a lottery, then it already sanctions gambling. Might as well allow a few other options that allow for a much better payout percentage to the participants.

    In libraries, no. We don’t need groups of gamblers taking up space in what is supposed to be an educational resource.

    Open an “electronic casino” in some underutilized area of northeast and watch people pour in from MD and VA to play. Charlestown would hate DC.

    How does this manage to sidestep federal law prohibiting online gambling, anyway?

  • I’m all for the on-line gambling, so long as the terminals are established first in Georgetown. That’s where the greatest concentration of disposable income exists.

    Let us not NIMBY it east of the river!

  • makes sense to me, librarians can help find the books how to beat the odds at black jack and then the gambling addiction self-help books. Seriously going to be a huge revenue generator. Now they just need to legalize narcotics, prostitution, automatic weapons and we will be close to Orlando’s Disney World in the depth of human depravity.

  • I know this may be a little off topic, but I decided to quit drinking today. I haven’t had a drink since Saturday night. I’m just tired of hurting people I love. Pray for me.

  • So let me get this straight – Brown wrote the legislation, snuck it in a budget bill and only now says that gambling terminals don’t belong everywhere. I think he should have thought of that when he wrote the bill.

    Sine the city doesn’t build continence stores that sell lottery tickets they don’t need to provide any infrastructure for online gambling.

    I can’t wait for the corruption stories to roll in. I’m sure Brown has some ‘friends’ that will be favored in this.

  • OMG! This will turn libraries into the next Adams Morgan!

  • DC should have casinos, a limited number of them (perhaps 4-7 or so), ensure they are really high end classy looking ones (more like Monaco or Germany or some in Asia), and place them in a mixture of prime DC locations and areas that need some uplifting, perhaps along the Anacostia River. This would bring so much money to DC, plus jobs.

    • And crime.

      • Yeah, because this city doesn’t exist on organized crime, already.

        • me

          If by “organized crime” you are talking about the politicians, then okay. But if you mean the typical gangs, then that’s about as far away from organized as you can get.

        • I’d trade organized crime for the current, disorganized variety in a second. Petty street crime is bad for business. So Jimmy “The Shark” Gambiotti would obviate the need for DYRS.

    • Casinos are the last thing DC needs. And while Monaco might have nice casinos, I’ve been into most of the ones in Vegas and “high-end” wouldn’t be the best description of them. The casinos were nice, but the clientele looked like they were bussed in from Ocean City. If gambling is such a boon for communities, how do you explain how dumpy Atlantic City is?

      • Because Atlantic City was founded on casinos and organized crime. And over the last 10-15 years it has been on a steady decline into the dumps. There are plenty of casinos around the country that are on a much smaller scale that are nice.

        • I’d be interested in which city would serve as a model here – A city DC’s size with similar social and economic demographics. I can’t think of any city where gambling has turned things around economically and helped the citizens (not the government that seems ok with spreading vice if it can make a buck off of it). Putting casinos in DC is a terrible idea. If people want to go to Maryland, Delaware, or WV, then that’s their choice. And I say that as someone who likes to gamble occasionally. But putting casinos here increases the chances that DC residents will be negatively impacted. The online idea (whether in libraries or not) is just as bad. This is just another DC councilmember embarrassing himself with evident corruption.

          • At least other revenue-generating sources (speed cameras) provide some potential benefit to the city (improved safety) along with bringing in money. I guess the short-term entertainment of those who use these machines could be considered a benefit… but, that seems like a stretch.

      • I did not reference Vegas (or AC) because I do not consider either one to be high end. Those are mostly trashy (thought not entirely in the high end portions) and I agree with your description of much of the clientele.

    • This is a joke right?

  • This, like the lottery, is a tax on ignorance. Unfortunately, it often ends up being a tax on our neediest residents.

    • They don’t have to play? Not a tax.

      • What do you call the premium the state puts on the sale of tobacco? Or that you pay on that pair of tighty-whities you bought at Filene’s yesterday? A “user’s fee”?

        • You’re such a snarky asshole in everyone of your posts. I was just saying that these “needy” residents wouldn’t have to pay this tax if they didn’t play. In my eyes, you aren’t needy if you’re gambling.

    • I agree that Lotto is a tax on the stupid.

      • No it’s a tax on everyone, because eventually after all these people lose their rent money and food money, the city will come in and make them whole. Know who makes the city whole? People who work for a living.

  • How’d you do on Keno this week? Only those ignorant enough to play (money down the drain) pay the tax.

  • Put them in existig hotels and bars. I don’t want people to build gbetto online casino shops because there is no doubt that every single vacant store front on GA Ave will become one.

  • Our city (and nation) have become true idiocracies. Have you ever been to a typical DC library anyway? They have no books, and are mainly just places for DC’s illustrious, overachieving youth to surf the internet for free. I say let ’em gamble–they’re not going to be reading anyway.

  • So now people are just writing to PoP about articles they read in the post?

  • After all of that effort to prevent gambling in the city a few years back, all it takes is one councilmember slipping it into a bill with no public comment and little consideration of the details. Online casinos and taxes on ignorance are not what this city needs.

  • Can’t wait. I’m gonna be so rich!

  • At the hearing yesterday DC Lottery specifically stated they would not be in libraries. I suspect an opponent started this rumor.

  • This is such a spectacularly BAD idea that I can’t believe it was suggested. Michael Brown should be ashamed of himself. But as evidenced by the legislation, he has no shame in using the District government and taxpayer dollars to such a purpose.

    Seriously public libraries already have a hard time making sure that all people can use the public terminals – giving another reason is just DUMB ASS (even if it isn’t for all branches).

    The DC government thinks targeting economically disadvantaged persons who can’t afford computers at home and are therefore using public library computers to GAMBLE money they don’t have on computers (they couldn’t afford for their own home) that are paid by all taxpayers is a good idea? Wow.

    I have no problem with gambling, online or otherwise. If people want to throw their money to the gambling corporations that is their business, but I don’t for a single second think the District government should be in the business of encouraging and enabling it’s citizens to give their money to private enterprise and basically assisting the corporations in such a fashion is appropriate.

  • finally a reason to go to the library, you know what im sayin?

  • and for those who don’t know, Michael Brown made $200,000 last year working for a law firm that represents gambling interests. He claims there is no conflict of interest, because he is engaged in ‘federal lobbying.’ However, he is not registered as a federal lobbyist. Really impressive level of chutzpah.

  • Online gambling isn’t actually illegal — what is illegal is moving money from financial institutions to gambling sites.

    Online poker is not a tax on people who are bad at math the way that the lottery or keno or (online) blackjack are.

    In all of those instances you are playing against the house, so when you lose, the house (in this case DC) wins.

    When you are playing online poker you are playing against other people. So when you lose, someone else wins. And because there is no statistical house advantage (i.e. the odds are not stacked against you from the start) it becomes a game of skill.

    For poker, the house (DC) makes it’s money by charging a rake (essentially a tax on each pot).

    Should poker be in libraries? No. But it should be legal to play online everywhere (and get taxes/raked accordingly).

    • In low limit games (and with the proposed $250 per week buy in that’s going to be nearly all of the action) the rake is generally worse than the house edge in casino table games.

      I agree, though, they should just legalize poker.

      • jcm, that’s only true if you are comparing it to expected win percentage.

        House edge in casinos never changes. Win % will change greatly based on who you are playing against. If you find enough donks to play against, your win rate will far exceed the rake even at low stakes.

        Also, $250 buy in per week doesn’t preclude larger stakes, it just limits the weekly buy in (i.e. nothing to stop higher stakes games, as people build up their bankrolls through winning or patiently adding $$ each week).

  • andy

    I don’t understand why there need to be publicly available terminals at all.

  • Way to debate the bill AFTER it was passed and signed. There was plenty of news on this bill when it was being debated. It was all over the Post, blogs, local tv news, etc. Y’all just slept on it. I for one, am looking forward to making some $ playing online poker wherever they set up the gambling stations.

    • You’ll probably lose everything you own playing on line. Good luck.

      The online poker industry has been taken over by computer programmers who create fake accounts and play real people capitalizing (literally) on people’s poor decision making skills.

  • Every district resident will be footing the bill for the idiots who lose their shirts striking for gold.

    It’s the same thing as paying for the drunks that we have to support because of the liquor industry in DC.

    It will be the same as the addicts we have to support so that everyone else can have their evening joint.

    This is going to accelerate social decay in poor communities.

  • Agree that the first terminals should go into the Gtown Library and then maybe the Cleveland Park library. I would hate for them to be left out. here is where they should NOT go…anywhere on GA avenue in the vicinity of the metro. Like we don’t have enough shitty uses around there. I will fight that non-stop if CM Graham even thinks (which he might do on occasion) that this should be allowed. How much longer do we have to suffer with this god-awful council. Who ISN’T under investigation? Please tell me this little “one city” experiment will end before the city moves to far back in time.

  • This is a serious question: how much of the DC government can be recalled at one time? Add Councilmember Brown to the long list I’m looking for on a recall ballot in 2012.

  • The concern about the libraries becoming gambling havens is ridiculous. Won’t happen. I, for one, am looking forward to the day I can gamble online again. Black Friday (April 15) was a sad day. Was just getting good at hold ’em when the sites were shut down. I managed to play for 2 months with $20. It’s entertainment, pure and simple. (Yes, I do get outside to smell the flowers too.)

    If you are a responsible “gambler”, you won’t throw all your $$ down the tubes. You’ll stop when you are behind. If you are an idiot, you may get into trouble. But should we squash a good opportunity to bring in revenue for the city, just to protect the idiots from themselves?

    And no, I don’t think DC needs a casino.

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