DC Council passes sports betting bill

The DC Council passed the 2018 Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act (Bill 22-944) on Tuesday afternoon.

This sports betting bill amends the DC gambling laws to permit land-based and online sports betting.

Prior to the vote, Councilmember Jack Evans, who introduced the bill said: “We’re venturing into new territory with sports gaming.

“I’m very excited that the District will be out of the box if this passes today.”

The permanent bill will still need to go to Congress for a 60-day review, but it is now up to Mayor Muriel Bowser sign off on an emergency bill that was passed alongside the main bill.

Once the emergency bill is signed, then preparations for legal sports betting in DC can begin to take place.

Three amendments were made to the bill but only one will appear to have a strong impact on the future of sports betting in DC. The amendment will leave data requirements to the rules set by regulators instead of writing them into law.

DC sports betting will follow a similar model to Delaware sports betting which is a lottery-operated system.

The District of Columbia Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board will be rebranded and become the Office of Lottery and Gaming. The Office of Lottery and Gaming will be responsible for regulating and overseeing the industry.

In terms of taxation, sports betting in DC will be taxed at a rate of 10% which is one of the lower rates compared to other US states that have legal sports betting.

The DC Lottery will launch a mobile betting platform that will be powered by the Greek supplier, Intralot.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) released a news statement which was positive but did voice “deep concerns” over the “virtual monopoly in the mobile market.”

Sarah Slane, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the AGA, said: “We are encouraged by the DC City Council’s vote today to authorize sports wagering in the district. This decision represents a step in the right direction when it comes to protecting consumers and the integrity of sports.

“While the vote today is progress, we remain deeply concerned about giving the lottery a virtual monopoly in the mobile market. Predictably, this will result in less investment and innovation, to the detriment of consumers and the ability of a nascent legal marketplace to compete with the accessibility and convenience offered by many established illegal wagering operations.”

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.

These facilities will be allowed to obtain a Class A license. A Class A license will allow the venues to offer on-site mobile sports betting with in-house or third-party apps.

Venues with a Class A license will benefit from a two-block exclusivity zone where no competition can operate. These licenses are valid for five years and cost $250,000.

Other venues will be able to apply for a Class B license to offer sports betting. They are almost identical to a Class A license but do not contain the two-block exclusivity zone. These are valid for five years and cost $50,000.

With the end of the year approaching it looks like DC residents will be able to wager on sports in 2019.

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