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Vincent Gray now supports Internet gambling repeal

Gray had previously made comments supportive of the “iGaming” program. (Jim Cole/Associated Press)

Gray’s pronouncement comes a day ahead of a D.C. Council committee’s vote on whether to repeal the program. While the future of the program is now in the hands of the council, Gray’s position — somewhat of a reversal from his previous statements on the matter — could set back efforts by Michael A. Brown (I-At Large), the “iGaming” program’s lead proponent, to rally support among his colleagues.

Gray’s spokesman, Pedro Ribeiro, said Gray has concluded that the process under which the program became law was so convoluted that it should be scrapped.

“His view is that this has become so messy, and there are so many questions about this, let’s repeal it and take a step back,” Ribeiro said. “It’s not something so absolutely critical to the future of the city that we need to do this.”

A hearing last week highlighted irregularities in how city officials went about authorizing the program, which was quietly added to the city’s lottery contract after it passed a 2009 council vote and was later authorized through a 2010 spending bill.

Gray was council chairman during those votes, and as the program has become increasingly controversial, he has generally defended it. In a July interview with NewsChannel 8, Gray said the authorization language included in the December 2010 budget bill “really did get quite an airing” and “was very much out on the forefront.”

Wednesday’s anticipated panel vote on a repeal measure introduced by Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) will be the first time legislators vote on a stand-alone bill devoted to Internet gambling. The finance and revenue committee’s chairman, Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), appears to have the votes to send the repeal measure to the full council, where Gray’s support could help sway undecided members.

Ribeiro said Gray is “not necessarily opposed” to the council taking up new legislation that would specifically authorize an Internet gambling program.

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