Poker Coverage: Poker Legislation Poker Tournaments U.S. Poker Markets Sports Betting

Washington D.C. Sports Betting Implementation Put On Hold

Council Chairman Withdraws Emergency Legislation That Would Have Allowed Lottery A Temporary Monopoly

Print-icon
 

Citizens of the nation’s capital will have to wait a little longer before they can legally bet on sporting events in the District of Columbia.

On Dec. 18, the D.C. Council voted overwhelmingly, by a vote of 11-2, to pass the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018, which legalized sports betting in the district. After a hearing by the council on Tuesday, however, it’s clear that the implementation of the legislation won’t be any time soon.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson withdrew the emergency legislation that would have given exclusivity to the D.C. Lottery in the early stages of the district’s rollout. The emergency bill would have suspended the normal process of obtaining a contract with the district and given preference to the Lottery to run a mobile app where they could place bets within the district’s borders. The rest of thee competition would then be forced to go through a lengthy licensing process with the D.C. Council throughout the year.

Under the current bill, that is still awaiting a signature from Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), the Lottery is already the regulatory body for the industry. Once signed, they will begin to create the rules and regulations for operators to follow.

Instead of voting on that measure on Tuesday, the Council opted to hold hearings on the bidding process before finalizing the implementation.

Critics of the proposed bill don’t want the D.C. Lottery to be the only provider. They wanted to allow competition from other gambling sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings. Mendelson has noted, however, that if sports betting is going to be offered in 2019, it is likely that the lottery will be the only provider.

D.C. Lottery Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt, was the driving force behind Tuesday’s proposed legislation. His office sent a memo to the D.C. Council in early January asking for the suspension of normal procedure. In the memo to the council, he argued that the temporary monopoly would be beneficial for the district since they are the first in the Capital region to legalize sports betting.

Maryland is unable to pass sports betting legislation until 2020 since its citizens need to vote on a ballot initiative to pass it. And while Virginia has bills in place, they don’t have much of a history with gaming regulation and it is expected to take some time for it to be rolled out, which leaves D.C. as the only area in the region that would have been able to offer legal sports betting in the near future.