In a five-minute discussion seemingly as rushed as the contract itself, the Washington, D.C. council voted Tuesday to approve an emergency measure allowing its current lottery provider to run sports betting in the district.
Bill threads a needle to passage
Tuesday’s vote was the second on the bill, which squeaked through on a 7-6 vote on first reading two weeks ago.
That happened weeks after the bill narrowly passed committee on a 3-2 vote, with notable help from council chair Phil Mendelson. The chairman does not sit on the committee but can participate on any he chooses. He dropped in this time to push the bill through to the full council.
District officials contend they need the expedited process in order to launch by NFL season this year. The first vote was tight, though, as some councilmembers expressed concern about the potential negative perception of skipping competitive bidding.
DC sports betting, party of one
Months earlier, the council voted to utilize a single vendor for DC sports betting. Today’s vote solidified that competitors IGT and Scientific Games would not receive a chance to bid on the contract.
Mayor Muriel Bowser signed that law in January, starting a 60-day clock for Congressional review of DC laws with financial implications.
Barring any pushback from the Hill, district staff can negotiate a contract with Intralot, both for sports betting and lottery services. District CFO Jeff DeWitt testified last month that without this emergency procurement bill, the sports betting launch could be delayed more than two years.
The district also wants a consultant to help run sports betting. Separate from the lottery contract, DC officials posted an RFP for sports betting advisory services.
It appears to be a one-year contract with four optional extension years. If all five years are utilized, the contract could offer up to 10,000 hours of consulting dollars.
A bit of background
DC sports betting went from concept to completion in a flash over the past few months.
Councilmember Jack Evans first proposed the bill in September. In an October hearing on the first version of Councilman Jack Evans‘ bill, operators had their first chance to weigh in.
DC sports betting will feature a significant mobile component, as there are no casinos in the district. The bill also includes exclusivity zones that give stadium and arena operators the benefit of no competition within a two-block radius.
That would benefit people like Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, a sports betting proponent who wants to integrate wagering into the in-game experience.