Bowser technically did not sign the bill into law, though. All Washington DC council bills must go to Congress for a review period. Because the DC sports betting bill carries fiscal impact, that review period is 60 days. DC officials could, however, utilize emergency procedure to start sports betting sooner while the review proceeds.
The district’s council passed a bill legalizing sports betting last month on a 10-2 vote, but Bowser waited weeks to approve it. Controversy engulfed the bill throughout council deliberation, from debate about integrity fees to wrangling over operators.
What comes next for DC sports betting
Don’t expect to start placing wagers in the district just yet. Even in a best-case scenario, officials in DC do not anticipate legal sports betting prior to spring.
Bowser’s signature also did not remove another major obstacle in the path of DC sports betting. Earlier this month, LSR broke the story that council chair Phil Mendelson wanted to juice DC Lottery operator Intralot into the sports betting contract.
Following that story, Mendelson pulled his request for the council to approve the amendment eliminating competitive bidding. He instead scheduled a public hearing to discuss it later in January.
DC sports betting will look different
No matter what happens with Mendelson’s amendment, only one vendor will control DC sports betting via the district’s lottery. That is the structure approved by the council, in part based on dubious claims about profit returns by Intralot.
No casinos operate in Washington DC, meaning the lottery will need mobile sports betting to succeed. It’s included in the bill.
Plans also exist to include legal sports betting at DC-area stadiums and arenas. Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis supports this idea.
The district also might feature so-called “exclusivity zones” allowing those arenas to ban sports betting for a small radius near the facilities. These plans could require significant work for geofencing technology operators to ensure compliance with the law and zones.