Class B licenses reserved for bars, restaurants
Legal Sports Report

How The DC Sports Betting Licensing Process Will Play Out

DC sports betting

Now that the DC sports betting contract is approved, preparations for launch can begin in earnest in the District of Columbia.

DC sports betting is gearing up to go live, and facilities that serve alcohol are allowed to get in on the action. First, however, they must go through the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA.)

Details on DC sports betting licenses

A quick primer on how sports betting in DC operates: Intralot, the district’s lottery vendor, also will oversee the launch of a mobile sports betting product.

The DC Office of Lottery and Gaming issues and enforces sports betting licenses and is in charge of developing and implementing regulations.

There are two classes of operators: Class A and Class B:

  • Class A operators are those sports wagering facilities located at Capital One Arena, Audi Field, Nationals Park, St. Elizabeth’s East Entertainment and Sports Arena.
  • Class B operators can be single individuals, a group of individuals, or entities operating private sports wagering facilities.

Class B sports wagering facilities cannot be located within a two-block radius of any Class A facility. Operators may offer a mobile product, but only within the confines of their brick-and-mortar facilities.

Making sure Class B spots are ready

ABRA issues and renews alcohol licenses and does not influence the issuance or enforcement of sports betting licenses. With that having been said, ABRA has a say in which alcoholic beverage control (ABC)-licensed establishments will also be allowed to offer legal sports betting

For those existing ABC-licensed establishments, adding sports betting on-site is considered a “substantial change” according to the DC Office of Attorney General.  Thus, the establishment must request permission from the ABRA to host on-site DC sports betting using this form.

There is no fee to request permission from the ABRA, and an establishment may pursue a sports wagering license and apply for substantial change to ABC license simultaneously. Requests must be made in writing to ABRA and include: 

  • The quantity and types of sports wagering devices that will be added;
  • Where they will be located within the establishment; and 
  • A copy of the establishment’s security plan.

How the decisions will be made

When considering the request to add sports betting, the ABC Board takes into account certain appropriateness standards. These standards include consideration of how adding sports betting will affect, among other things, the following

  • Real property values
  • Peace, order, and quiet, including noise and litter
  • Residential parking needs
  • Vehicular and pedestrian safety

The duration of request for approval for substantial change to an ABC license varies on a case-by-case basis.

All applications that are considered to be a substantial change by the ABC Board are subject to a 45-day protest period. Additional time may be needed if an application is protested or if the board requires a fact-finding hearing.

Whitney Fore
- Whitney Fore is an associate at Ifrah Law, a leading gaming law firm globally. Her practice focuses on land-based and online gaming, with a particular emphasis on skill-based contests, sweepstakes, official rules, sports betting, privacy policies, and website terms and conditions. She assists clients with a variety of gaming and transactional issues, including licensing and regulatory approvals for gaming manufacturers and service providers.

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