Why So Long, Washington DC?
Legal Sports Report

This One Operator Might Beat Intralot To DC Sports Betting Launch

DC sports betting

It could be a few more months until Washington, DC, sports betting is live throughout the nation’s capital.

The first operator that will likely be live should be Intralot through the DC Lottery. That’s the Greek lottery company selected for an exclusive contract by the DC Council in a maligned deal.

Those vying for smaller Class A or Class B licenses will take longer, especially considering how much longer the licensing process could take.

Will Will win in DC sports betting?

Right now, there’s only one operator that could hypothetically beat Intralot’s timeline: William Hill.

William Hill’s American Wagering Inc. is the only operator that applied, so far, despite the process opening early last month. William Hill signed an agreement to operate a sportsbook inside Capital One Arena in October.

There’s no current timeline to launch DC sports betting as the application process continues, according to a company spokesperson.

Will sports betting be in DC by March Madness?

The lottery hopes to get Intralot’s DC sports betting up and running by March, according to an Office of Lottery and Gaming spokesperson.

March Madness officially kicks off March 17. It would be in the interest of all involved not to miss that date.

Intralot’s road to operating DC sports betting was wrought with controversy. Former Councilman Jack Evans, who pushed Intralot for the deal, was ousted from the DC Council for alleged ethics violations. Evans has deep ties to a consulting firm that advocated on behalf of Intralot.

Intralot will be the only mobile sportsbook available in most of Washington, DC. The capital presents a particularly tricky geofencing challenge, as no mobile sports betting can be accessed from federally owned land.

It also won’t be available within two blocks of the Class A operators or operators at a sports arena.

Licensing procedures for DC sportsbook operators

There’s a practical reason why William Hill’s license is in first and other operators are behind: the amount of work for the license.

William Hill is licensed in some of the 10 jurisdictions approved by DC. That means all William Hill needs is a provisional license, which takes less work. Those licenses should be approved within 45 days.

Given William Hill submitted its license Dec. 23, the company should be licensed sometime by mid-February.

Smaller shops have different challenges

It isn’t as easy for other hopeful operators, however.

Shane August, of Handle19, said the full application process is extremely lengthy and requires a “tremendous amount of documentation.” August intends to operate sports bars with sports betting provided by US-listed Newgioco Group under a Class B license.

That application is about 80% complete and will be submitted soon. But the standard licensing process can take three to six months, an Office of Lottery and Gaming spokesperson said.

August, therefore, is planning on a launch sometime this fall.

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- Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.
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