D.C. to Open First Sportsbook Bar

Shane August (l.) is working hard to open the first sports bar and sportsbook in Washington D.C. near the capitol. But first he has to convince his neighbors, many of who consider it a bad idea.

Washington D.C.’s first sports bar and sportsbook combination, Handle 19, will open near the capitol before Thanksgiving.

Owner Shane August will be taking advantage of the legalization of sports betting by the D.C. Council in 2018. He anticipates being issued a license by the D.C. Lottery by Halloween. His will be the second brick and mortar sportsbook retailer to open in the city.

The first was William Hill sportsbook at Capital One Arena. The D.C. Lottery takes sports wagers on its GamBetDC mobile app.

August’s neighbors are digging in their hills at the sports betting sports bar, arguing that it will generate crime in the area. They have taken their concerns to the virtual Advisory Neighborhood Commission. They tried to block August’s liquor license and sparked a discussion where some of them worried about “social ills” and “security risks” from a sportsbook lounge.

August says he plans to school his neighbors on the reality of sports betting before his November 12 hearing before the Alcohol Beverage Control Board. He told Sports Handle, “We’re going to educate the public. What we’ve been doing … we’ve been taking individual calls from members of the public who have attended these meetings.”

The three level facility will include 6,000 square feet of food, drink and entertainment. The sportsbook will be on the third floor, with cage, kiosks and teller s in the basement.

August commented, “I’m on the record since 2019, that we’re coming to market with a Vegas-style sportsbook. We do have some small remodeling to complete, and hope to open before Thanksgiving. If we have to open without alcohol in the beginning, we will. We’re doing it because there is a public appetite that is unprecedented.”

It will be operated by USBookmaking, whose owner Vic Salerno, said, “We’d love to go in there, as far as D.C. goes, that should be a great market for us.” He added, “I think it should be a winner from the start. We’re the service provider and we’re the oddsmaker and we’re making sure they’re not making mistakes. That’s our expertise.”

Handle 19’s Class B license allows “physical and mobile sports wagering at businesses located within the District. All wagering, including mobile, offered by a Class B Operator must be conducted within the physical confines of the licensed location.”

D.C. operators will soon have competition from Virginia, which is allowing online sports betting beginning early next year and may be joined by Maryland, which will vote on sports betting this November.

August says the public will “dictate what we have inside. This is for the real bettors, we’re not a corporate group.”