New Probe Into Washington DC Lottery Contract

Prominent members of Washington DC council push for new hearing into controversial Lottery contract and online gambling bill.

Serious questions over irregularities in Washington DC's lottery and its online gambling bill have led to plans for a re-examination of the issues when the council reconvenes in September.

The main controversy surrounding the Lottery contract relates to the awarding of 51% of the $38 million lottery contract to a local businessman who never participated in the the bidding process. Greek firm Intralot, who needed a local partner in order to be eligible, had secured his services.

Washington DC Inspector General, Charles J Willoughby, has come under fire for failing to act on requests to investigate the irregularities and the oversight activities of Chief Financial Officer, Natwar M. Gandhi.

Jack Evans, Democrat Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, said this failure to act raised concerns about the intergrity of the deal. He is supported in his call for a fresh hearing by Muriel Bowser, Democrat Chairwoman of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment. This committee oversees the Office of the Inspector General.

The issue is complicated further by accusation of deviousness and trickery in the matter of the online gambling bill. It has emerged that the bill was pushed through by a councilor in the employ of a legal firm that has clients who would benefit from the law.

In addition, opponents say it was unacceptable for the bill to be pushed through without public consultation. Bowser described the tacking on of the bill to a supplementary budget bill as “sleight of hand.” The bill has now been put on hold until a public consultative process takes place, likely to be after the summer.