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DC Online Gaming Sponsor Caught in Conflict of Interest

According to Reports, the Washington, DC, district councilman who pushed to allow the city to become the first US jurisdiction to have legal online gaming has been working for a law firm that represented an online casino software developer. Michael Brown, the sponsor of the bill that added an amendment to the DC Lottery Charter, had earned over US$240,000 last year from the law firm of Edwards, Angell, Palmer and Dodge.

 

The law firm hired Brown as a public policy consultant last year. The firm also represents several companies in the gaming industry, both live and online. One of the firm’s larger clients is the software developer GTech, which has a subsidiary company that creates online casino games. Other clients include gaming equipment manufacturers, casino owners and other gaming software developers.

 

Brown maintains that his sponsorship of the online gaming bill did not represent a conflict of interest, since none of the law firm’s clients had business with the district and were not pursuing online gaming opportunities in the area. The law firm also said that it maintained a professional distance between Brown’s consulting duties and its representation of online gaming companies.

 

The amendment allows for DC residents to play online casino games, including poker, blackjack and roulette, as well as participate in fantasy sports games. The bill was added to a budget proposal late last year in an attempt to overcome revenue shortfalls from the lottery. The bill did not come up for a public debate or referendum, nor did then-mayor Adrian Fenty review the provision.

 

The apparently surreptitious nature of the bill becoming law has led to speculation about both the legality of the proposal and to the integrity of Brown’s methods. Brown resigned from the law firm in January.

07-Jun-2011, 11:58


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