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The newest US jurisdiction to eye legal sports betting? Washington, D.C. But the newest effort is not in Congress.
A member of the District of Columbia’s Council announced that he would introduce a bill to legalize sports gambling in the city.
Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans sent out a press release that he will introduce the “Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018” on Tuesday at a meeting of the Council.
“Today, we take the first steps towards capturing this exciting new stream of revenue, instead of watching District resident dollars fill the coffers of other jurisdictions,” Evans said. “The District of Columbia will be the leader in a fast-growing industry.
“The city should take advantage of our ability to act before the Maryland or Virginia legislatures to create a thriving sports betting market, which will attract consumers to the District and generate revenue for District residents.”
DC is the latest place in the US to look at sports wagering legalization in the wake of the US Supreme Court ruling in May that struck down the federal ban outside of Nevada.
Neither Maryland nor Virginia has taken concrete steps toward legalizing sports betting yet, but it is legal in nearby New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia, and will be soon in Pennsylvania, among other states.
Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, WV, in particular, is close enough that DC residents can get to the sportsbook with a little traveling.
Legal Sports Report does not have a copy of the bill. And details on the legislation were short. But here’s what Evans’ office said about it:
The legislation’s purpose is to legalize sports betting in the District of Columbia, while also creating strong regulatory structures that ensure consumer confidence.
The Councilmember’s office worked closely with the District’s Lottery to craft legislation that would maximize the revenue realized by the District. Residents and visitors will be able to bet both online or in person, and the Lottery will have broad powers to ensure the integrity of the system.
According to the press release, some of the “revenue generated from sports betting will go to fund the recently passed ‘Birth-to-Three for All DC Act’ which promotes early childhood wellness programs and to the arts.”
DC tried to enact a sports betting lottery back in 1989, according to The Washington Post:
While not going as far as the single-game wagering offered then and now in Las Vegas, the idea replicated the “Sports Action” lottery game that was unveiled that year by the state of Oregon. It was, in essence, an attempt to bring a limited form of sports gambling to the nation’s capital, where the practice had long been outlawed.
It never got off the ground. After months of condemnation from pro sports leagues and other observers — The Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon wrote that “it’s hard to imagine a more irresponsible idea” — the D.C. Council killed the proposal in May 1990, saying it hurt the city’s chances of acquiring a Major League Baseball franchise.
Of course, 2018 offers a wildly different starting point for sports betting and the city’s chance of legalizing it.