Legal Sports Betting is Coming to Washington, DC

Legal Sports Betting in Washington, DC

Legal sports betting is coming to the Nation's capital. On the 18th of December, a bill advanced through the Council of the District of Columbia with an 11-2 voting margin. This bill is known as the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018.

What does this legal sports betting bill specify?

The Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act legalizes sports bets made digitally, via the internet, and mobile application. The plan for this bill is that legal sports betting would be made available through the lottery as well as online. Capital One Arena and Nationals Park would establish two-block exclusivity zones around their establishments, where sportsbooks outside of their own stadiums are forbidden.

In some states it is forbidden to wager on college sports, however, this bill does not include the repudiation of legal sports betting on college sports. Nevertheless, under the new bill, it is forbidden for all directly involved with sports to place wagers on athletic events. This includes athletes, coaches, team owners, referees, players, and referee union employees, as well as sports governing organizations.

How will legal sports betting in DC be regulated?

The District of Columbia Lottery and the Charitable Games Control Board are currently being rebranded. Once the bill develops, they will become the Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG). This administration will become the regulators of legal sports betting. Part of their job as regulators will be to sort out licenses for sports betting operators, who can apply for either a Class A or a Class B license.

Class A sports betting licenses

Class A licenses will be sold at $250,000 and will be issued to "designated facilities." Venues such as Nationals Park, Capital One Arena, Audim FIeld, and St. Elizabeth’s East Entertainment and Sports Arena fit into this category. The establishments under Class A licenses are to receive an exclusivity zone of two-blocks, protecting them from other bookmakers in competition.  

Class B sports betting licenses

Class B licenses will be sold at $50,000 and differ from Class A licenses in that they will not include the exclusivity zone. These licenses will span five years. If operators wish to apply for a shorter two-year license, they can receive one at a cost of $5,000.

Online and mobile sports betting will be commissioned by the district. All legal sports betting operators will be required to pay 10% of their gross gambling revenue as taxes.

Where will this legal sports betting bill go next?

The next step for this bill is into the hands of Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser. Once the bill receives her signature, it moves onto the U.S. Senate for a four-week review period.

To the disagreement of sports leagues and multiple gaming operators, the D.C. Lottery had received the right to solely control sports betting. The NBA, Major League Baseball, the PGA Tour, as well as operators including MGM, FanDuel, and DraftKings teamed up to challenge the issue. They encouraged lawmakers to require a .25 percent fee based on the amount wagered to be paid to the professional leagues for the use of official league data. These appeals did not make it through the council however in the version of the bill that was passed.

How will this affect DC?

The sports betting market in Washington, D.C. is expected to generate a substantial amount of revenue. In a study from research firm Eilers & Krejick, it was predicted that sports betting revenue will bring in $36.8 million each year to the district.


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5 March 2019

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