On Tuesday, the DC Council voted 8-4 in favor of legislation that will skip the competitive bidding process for the district’s sports betting contract.
Now that the DC Council has voted on Bill 23-25, Intralot, the city’s lottery vendor, will be granted the contract for sports betting in DC.
The council also voted in favor of two emergency measures. The emergency measures will allow the DC Lottery to begin negotiating with Intralot as soon as the bill is signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, even before it receives approval from Congress.
Although legislative efforts have been successful, those who oppose the bill have been incredibly vocal on the matter.
By skipping the competitive bidding process for sports betting in DC, Intralot has essentially been granted a monopoly over sports betting in the District. This means that competitors such as Scientific Games and International Game Technology (IGT) will not get the chance to bid on the city’s sports betting contract.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Council Member David Grosso, who opposes the idea of bypassing the bidding process, said that Intralot had made significant contributions to Councilmember campaign funds.
Grosso went on to say: “I will vote against this. It is not an emergency. It is a giveaway.”
It appears that the DC Council is trying to use the emergency measures to bring sports betting to the market as quickly as possible in an attempt to capitalize on the spread of the activity and beat the neighboring state’s that could offer sports betting.
Last month, DC’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Dewitt said that with the competitive bidding process, the launch of sports betting in DC could be delayed by up to three years. Other lottery officials cited a report from Spectrum Gaming that suggested DC could lose out on about $60.9m of revenue in the time it takes to complete the bidding process.
As there are no casinos in DC, sports betting will be offered via a mobile platform rolled out by the DC Lottery.
On top of mobile sports betting, retail land-based sports betting will be permitted in four sports venues. These venues are, the Capital One Arena, Audi Field, Nationals Park and St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena.
Now that the council voted to skip the competitive bidding process, DC could offer mobile sports betting in time for the 2019 NFL season.