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Posted at 11:17 AM ET, 09/19/2011

Michael Brown pushes back at gambling critics


Brown, in a 2007 file photo. (RICKY CARIOTI - The Washington Post)
D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) has been under a microscope lately, thanks in no small part to his role in legalizing a form of Internet gambling that’s come to be known as “iGaming.”

Now, as the D.C. Lottery prepares for a series of community meetings aimed at selling the program to skeptical residents, Brown is mounting a campaign to push back at his critics, accusing some of “gross misstatements.”

In a four-page “Dear Colleagues” letter circulated Friday to D.C. Council members and advisory neighborhood commissioners, Brown aims to “set the record straight” on a number of points of criticism, including the method by which iGaming became law.

Brown says that the inclusion of the iGaming language in a budget bill passed in September was not surreptitious, that it was “properly vetted through Council procedures similar to several other amendments” to the budget bill. Furthermore, he argues that there was widespread press coverage before the the final votes on the budget bill were taken.

Do those claims hold water? The iGaming provisions were publicized, but only on the day of and the days after the first-reading vote on the budget bill. And for Brown to defend the process as “similar” to that of other budget amendments, is to hang his defense on a process that’s been criticized in the past for its lack of public participation.

Stop D.C. Gambling, a community group opposing the new gambling measure, has already drafted a response to many of the letter’s points, says the legislative process was “clearly engineered to minimize public notice.”

In the letter, Brown goes on to argue, among other things, that the program is indeed permitted under federal law, that it is secure, that gambling will not be allowed at schools and libraries, that he has no conflict of interest with his former law firm, and that it will not result in “the installation of any type of slot machine or gambling device.”

He also explains that iGaming will not “most detrimentally affect the poorest and most vulnerable of our residents.”

“Unlike traditional gambling activities, iGaming tends to be played by individuals in medium-to-high income levels,” he explains “In order to play iGaming through the DC Lottery, a player must have a bank account, a computer and an internet connection. Our neediest residents generally do not have all three items.”

The letter: DV.load(’http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/250176-michael-brown-letter-to-colleagues-on-igaming.js’, { width: 454, height: 600, sidebar: false, container: “#DV-viewer-250176-michael-brown-letter-to-colleagues-on-igaming” });

By  |  11:17 AM ET, 09/19/2011

 
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