Just before Black Friday, Washington D.C. passed a measure that legalized online poker within its borders. The district has moved forward and they plan to offer online gaming as soon as September.
Greece-based Intralot – which was awarded a $39m contract to provide lottery services to the district – will provide and operate online games including Texas Hold’em, blackjack, bingo and others.
Though Washington D.C is set to become the first area in the country to offer online gaming, the restrictions included in their legislation will make it difficult, if not impossible, for professional poker players to resume their careers after Black Friday.
Besides restricting play to those physically within the D.C. borders, the law also imposes a $250 a week limit on deposits and will close all games between 4am and 10am. The deposit limit will keep the games at small stakes. Along with the limited size of the player pool, this restriction will effectively eliminate the ability of professionals to rely on online poker within the district as a reliable source of income.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Lottery director Buddy Roogow indicated the district is not interested in providing games that would attract online poker professionals. “We believe there’s a much larger component of social, recreational and casual players who will be interested in a lower-stakes platform”, Roogow said.
In addition to pushing the envelope of regulating online poker, the D.C legislation does have another aspect that may be deemed favorable to some players. Washington D.C. will serve players that may have been “too young” to play online poker in the past as the minimum age to play is 19 years old.