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Washington D.C. Mayor Signs Sports Betting Bill

Bill Now Moves To U.S. Congress While The D.C. Council Finalizes Implementation

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On Wednesday, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) signed legislation passed by D.C. City Council last year, which legalizes sports betting in the nation’s capital.

The legislation spent several weeks on her desk before it was signed and now moves to the U.S. Congress for a 60-day review before it officially becomes law.

In the meantime, officials could roll out sports betting for those within the District of Columbia’s borders. The Mayor’s signature was crucial, but there is still plenty of uncertainty with how it will be implemented.

The bill permits for mobile app betting and will allow in-person betting around the district’s pro sports teams’ arenas. Those are considered “exclusivity zones” where the arenas can partner with a private company to offer betting in the area. The mobile betting implementation is where the major questions still lie.

Earlier this month, while the Mayor was still considering the bill, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson withdrew emergency legislation that would have given exclusivity to the D.C. Lottery in the early stages of the rollout. Instead, the council opted for a Monday hearing on who will be allowed to offer sports betting and how those operators are ultimately chosen.

There are those who want to give the lottery full control over sports betting, which would be run through Intralot, a Greek company that supplies gambling transaction processing systems. This would allow for a faster implementation to jump start the market, which is already surrounded by legal sports betting in West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

But the critics of that plan argue that it would hurt the industry in the long run. The American Gaming Association is one of the more influential critics of the possible monopoly.

“We remain deeply concerned about giving the lottery a virtual monopoly in the mobile market,” the AGA said in a statement after the City Council passed the legislation last December. “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.”