Could DC become the sports betting capital too?

Council Aims To Bring DC Sports Betting To The Nation’s Capital By 2019

DC Sports Betting

If all goes according to plan, Washington, DC sports betting could become a reality by spring of 2019.

“If everything falls into place – sports betting will be live by [MLB] opening day next year,” DC Councilmember Jack Evans said in an interview with Legal Sports Report.

The council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue will hold a public hearing October 17 to discuss the “Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018” introduced in September by Evans.

Sports betting in the District of Columbia

DC is an interesting location for sports betting to pop up, considering professional sports leagues continue to lobby Congress for federal oversight following the demise of the PASPA.

The issue was discussed during the first post-PASPA sports betting hearing on Capitol Hill last week.

Sports betting is legal in nearby Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia, and is expected to come online in Pennsylvania this fall. Neither Maryland nor Virginia have been able to move legislation in their respective states.

“Here’s how I see it: we have a hearing on October 17 and if all goes well, the bill will be out of committee by the end of the month,” Evans told LSR.

Passing a law in DC takes time

The DC sports betting bill must pass both a vote from the finance committee and another from the full 13-member council.

According to Evans’ communications director, Joe Florio, any bill passed by the council and signed by the mayor must go to Congress for a 30-day review.

If a disapproval resolution is passed by the House and the Senate, then the DC bill is overturned, unless the disapproval resolution is vetoed by the president, Florio explained in an email.

However, if a bill goes to the House and is not acted upon in 30 days, then the bill is enacted as a law in the district.

What’s in the DC sports betting bill?

Authority will fall to the Office of Lottery and Gaming, which is overseen by a chief financial officer.

DC sports betting licenses will cost $50,000, and will be good for five years. Operators will pay a ten percent tax on gross sports betting revenue.

Revenue generated by the District will go to fund early childhood development, and arts and humanities programs.

While the bill includes no integrity fee, Evans said the conversation has come up.

“The argument is, nobody else has it — for now we plan on leaving that up in the air,” Evans said.

No casinos in DC, no problem

According to the bill:

A sports wagering operator license authorizes the operation of sports wagering at locations approved by the office and through any internet, mobile application or other digital platforms.

In addition to mobile platforms, sports betting could take place at a number of different arenas — perhaps quite literally.

“I see [sports betting] in many different venues. First off, the sports arenas we have,” Evans said.

Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis apparently agrees.

Evans said the second market he sees sports betting taking place at are sports bars and hotels, the latter of which see roughly 20 million visitors a year in the area.

“Hotels are a market that we want to tap into,” Evans said. “The goal is to establish a model bill for the rest of the country to use.”

Nicholaus Garcia
- Nick comes from West Texas where he graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in psychology. After a five-year stint in Chicago, where he wrote about local politics and graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, he moved to Washington, D.C. to write about issues related to gambling policy, sports betting and responsible gaming.