Washington DC Waits for Sports Wagering Green Light

Washington DC’s City Mayor, Muriel Bowser, has officially signed and approved the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act…

…but it is not the end of the road for DC when it comes to the introduction of legal sports betting.

Although committee chair and council member, Jack Evans, who submitted the bill, said that he hopes that sports betting will be up and running before the start of Major League Baseball season in April…

…that might not happen because there are a few issues that have to be regulated before the bill finally becomes the law.

The Congress Holds the Key

Although Washington DC is the US capital, it is not the state in a way California and New York are, for example. So, before any bill becomes law in DC, US Congress has to give their consent first.

Congress has a period of 60 days to respond to the DC bill. If the legislation remains silent, then the bill automatically becomes law.

Even though Congress usually doesn’t reject bills that have been previously approved by the DC Council…

…let’s not forget that they did block DC’s attempt to legalize marijuana and also the attempts for better access to reproductive care.

How Will the System Function?

Since Washington DC doesn’t have any land-based casinos, the official operator for sports gambling would be the city’s lottery operator Intralot. But, the DC Council is still reconsidering this suggestion, because the citizens were dissatisfied with the decision made without a previous bidding process.

Why?

Because Councilmen, Jack Evans, has been the main character in the investigation made by the DC Board of Ethics and Government Accountability where he is allegedly linked to a lobbying firm that is connected to lottery terminals and Intralot itself.

The Council is yet to decide who would be the main operator of sports gambling in DC.

The Washington Bill

Evans was the one who introduced this sports betting bill back in September 2018. His plan was to approve sports betting taxes at 10%, while the portion of the proceeds would go to a childhood-wellness programme.

“Today, we take the first steps towards capturing this exciting new stream of revenue, instead of watching District resident dollars fill the coffers of other jurisdictions,” he said in an official statement.

“The District of Columbia will be the leader in a fast-growing industry. The city should take advantage of our ability to act before the Maryland or Virginia legislatures to create thriving sports betting market, which will attract consumers to the District and generate revenue for District residents,” he added.

DC Council Rejected Royalty Fees

Washington DC’s City Council decided to cancel the amendment that included royalty fees for professional sports leagues back in December. The Committee on Finance and Revenue dismissed the Bill B22-0944 which includes a fee of 0.25% of revenue. The Council did this in order to advance a bill that would legalize sports betting in the district county.

Source:

“Washington, DC approves sports gambling, Congressional consent needed”, Erik Gibbs, calvinayre.com, January 25, 2019.

“DC Mayor approves sports betting law“, igamingbusiness.com, January 24, 2019.

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