The proposed District of Columbia gambling referendum, dealt a setback by City Council opponents, may be be revived in a procedural move announced yesterday by one of its sponsors, David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1).

Clarke said he will ask the full council membership to withdraw the refrendum-authorizing resolution from control by the council's Government Operations Committee.

When the committee met yesterday, its chairman. William R. Spaulding (D-Ward 5), refused to call for a vote either to endorse or to kill the measure.

Spaulding held firm despite a plea by Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large) that he permit the committee to act. Kane, who has taken no public position on gambling, said she strongly supports holding referendums on importand public questions.

Three of the committee's five members, including Spaulding, had announced their opposition to the referendum. Questioned by reporters, Spaulding would not explain why he refused to permit a vote, other than contending that he did not have enough staff members to study issues raised by the gambling question.

Council Chairman Arrington Dixon, cosponsor with Clarke of the referendum proposal, said the measure could be withdrawn from the Government Operations Committee by a majority vote of the council's 12 members. Both he and Clarke predicted success.

The council's next legislative meeting is scheduled for March 13. The referendum, which would be held May 1, asks public advice on creating a city-run lottery, permitting pari-mutuel betting on sports events and legalizing bingo and raffles sponsored by charitable bodies.