DC First to Approve Sports Betting in the DMV

You can’t gamble in DC, but pretty soon you’ll be able to wager on sporting events.

The District of Columbia Council voted 9-2 to advance a groundbreaking sports betting bill with a single app system which will allow the the D.C. Lottery to have a monopoly on mobile/internet sports betting within the District. It also allows in-person sports betting within five professional sporting venues around the city becoming the first jurisdiction to do so in the greater DC area.

Mayor Bowser is expected to approve the bill, and then for review by Congress (standard procedure). Neither is expected to oppose the bill.  D.C. sports betting will almost assuredly begin operation sometime in early 2019, potentially as early as February.

Allowing for competition among multiple commercial companies would allow the District to take in more tax revenue from sports betting — and that allowing competition would give the city a leg up on neighbors Virginia and Maryland, both of which promise to take up sports betting in 2019.

The Council has been moving quickly on sports betting in the hope of beating its neighbors to market. A sports betting bill has been pre-filed in Virginia, and Maryland lawmakers dabbled in sports betting during the 2018 session, and are expected  to take it up seriously in 2019, although Maryland may have to wait until a voter referendum in 2020 to implement. West Virginia, which legalized sports betting earlier this year, is already advertising in D.C.

Either way, the bill that advanced will allow the D.C. Lottery to be the only mobile/internet app available in the District, outside of sports stadiums and other venues that are licensed for sports betting. The model is unique — no state with sports betting has blocked commercial apps within its borders.

D.C. Sports Betting Bill Would Allow for ‘Pivot’ From Single-App System, if It Doesn’t Appear to Be Working.

Along with access for several million more people to legal wagering, the bill also presents a first-of-its-kind means for implementation.

Touted as a “hybrid” system by supporters, the bill allows individual entities such as bars, restaurants or liquor stores to partner with private gambling purveyors to offer sports betting. With the exception of select Washington D.C. sports venues, which have a special caveat granting them exclusivity within the facilities and the surrounding two-block area, all other bets will have to be placed through the D.C. Lottery.

D.C. officials project the current set up will generate $92 million in tax proceeds for the city over the next four years.