Ok, what is going on with sports betting in DC?
You may have seen a recent article and opinion piece in the Washington Post going over all the drama around legal sports betting in DC. And don't get us wrong, it is a mess. What these articles don't go into is what's gone right in DC. And as far as we're concerned, there's a lot of "right" going on in our nation's capital. Let us explain.
First, we'll kick it off with the good.
Proposed rules allow for Class A and Class B licenses. Here is a quick summary.
- More expensive
- No other sportsbooks allowed within a two-block radius
- Stadiums only. So, in other words, only these 4 places: Capital One Arena; Audi Field; Nationals Park; St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena
- Less expensive
- Bars and restaurants
- No exclusive radius
Both licenses allow the venues to contract with another company to provide the sportsbook service. This can be done through either a kiosk, teller, or mobile app (onsite only). So, expect some competition. Not only competition to earn your business at the book, but to earn your business at the bars and stadiums. Capitalism at its finest. Does it get any more American than that, DC?
Now for the bad.
You noticed we haven't mentioned online betting (outside of venues) yet. That is because online betting is tied up in some serious politics. Basically, the DC Council only allowed the state lottery to provide online betting. Then they only allowed one vendor to provide it for them. And with that, they only allowed their current vendor, Intralot, to bid for the contract. They said it was because it would take too long to vet other vendors. This would cause them to miss the ever-important September 5th NFL start date. Well, people didn't like that too much and they almost lost their online betting vendor, as well as their only lottery vendor. Kind of a bummer.
Finally, the swampy.
We get that some are upset that Intralot was the only one to bid on the DC online sports betting contract. But it seems probable that they wanted to save time and were happy with their current vendor, right? So what's the big deal?
Apparently, a councilmember that was trying to push this through quickly has allegedly had some unrelated ethics violations, as well as some alleged conflicts of interest with the proposed Intralot contract. In a report (again by the Washington Post), a lot of the money in the Intralot contract would go to companies with connections to DC politics, not established companies in the sports betting industry.
After some wrangling, the DC Council ended up passing the single-vendor Intralot contract 7-5.
Here's to DC for getting privately operated sports betting right by giving small business an opportunity to participate. We will see you in September.
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