Washington D.C. Moves Sports Betting Bill Forward

The District of Columbia City Council has advanced its sports betting bill to a second hearing on Dec. 18. The bill would give control of sports betting to the district’s lottery Washington has no brick and mortar casinos, but the bill would allow for in-person sports betting within professional sporting venues around the city.

Washington DC’s City Council approved a first reading of a new sports betting bill that would run online sports betting through the district’s lottery and live sports betting at city sports venues.

The bill now goes to a public hearing and second vote scheduled for December 18. If passed, the bill must be signed by the district’s mayor then sent to Congress for review.

The bill passed 9 to 2, but according to local reports, the two councilman voting against the bill raised several objections.

“I don’t believe all of the hype that’s been going on around this legislation, said councilman David Grosso. “I believe there is a lot of self-interest in this debate and I believe that some of my fellow council members believe there will be millions and millions in revenue, and I don’t believe it.”

Two amendments were proposed for the bill. One would have allowed for more aps to be designed for the system. The current bill allows only one. The amendment also called for minority and women owned businesses be assured of participating.

The bill passed without the amendments being attached.

Washington has been moving quickly to allow sports betting as it’s two neighbors, Maryland and Virginia are scheduled to take up discussion on their own sports betting laws in 2019. West Virginia has also begun sports betting and its industry has been advertising in the Washington area.

The district bill is unusual since it only allows the lottery to develop online apps and take bets and does not allow private companies to partner with gambling companies to offer their own apps.

As for live betting, a move was made to remove the new-vacant RFK stadium from the list of possible venues. The stadium sits on federally owned land, but the city owns the building.

That amendment also failed as officials said that any sports betting at RFK would be done if the building was rebooted in some way as a sports venue.

RFK is included along with Nationals Park (MLB), CapitalOne Arena (NBA and NHL) and Audi Field (MLS) are all named in the bill. The stadiums will be permitted to have sports betting.

There were also reports that the major professional sports leagues are seeking a 25-cent charge on every $100 wagered on sports in the District of Columbia. The leagues have been seeking “integrity fees” from states approving sports betting to help them ensure games remain honest and not affected by gambling. So far, they have had limited success in getting fees implemented.

Local reports also say sports betting companies from MGM, DraftKings and FanDuel have also been part of the lobbying effort to change the bill.

Council elected not to include the fee even after it was moved by the bill’s sponsor to add it.