After months of legal entanglements that brought lawsuits and resignations to the district’s Council, Washington D.C. is close to the finish line after the announcement that a sports betting mobile app will be available to area bettors in March.
The rollout of sports betting in the nation’s capital has been a bumpy one after the D.C. Council gave gaming operator Intralot the contract to run the district’s mobile wagering. The no-bid contract forced a local software developer to file a lawsuit claiming that the agreement with Intralot violated competition laws within the district.
As a result of the lawsuit, sports betting became delayed as a judge carefully considered motions. Once the lawsuit was thrown out in October, regulators began ramping up efforts to expand sports betting within the district.
But the Intralot controversy forced one longtime D.C. Council member, Jack Evans, to resign after his relationship with the gaming company came under scrutiny for potential inappropriate benefits for his support.
The city’s longest-tenured councilmember was set to be expelled from the Council after ethic complaints found that Evans had used his office to benefit the companies, such as Intralot, that had paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees.
Despite the controversies, Intralot will continue as the company to run the district’s mobile sports betting, although in-person betting will be handled by other gaming operators.
One of the stipulations of the D.C. sports betting law is that arenas and sporting venues within the district are able to house sportsbooks inside the property. Pushed for by the owners of D.C.’s professional sports teams, in-person betting is restricted to a tight area around the stadiums and arenas.
As it stands, only one venue has applied for a sports betting license, the Capital One Arena, home to the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals franchises. Both teams are owned by Ted Leonis who has spearheaded much of the legalization efforts within the D.C. area.
William Hill has a deal with the Leonis-led ownership group over Capital One Arena to run the sportsbook inside the facility once approval is granted by the D.C. Lottery. Although the mobile app may not be ready by March, betting in person at Capital One Arena could be ready before the Super Bowl.
When the D.C. Lottery opened its doors to applications for sports betting operators in late December, the William Hill-run sportsbook in the Capital One Arena quickly submitted the paperwork for approval. According to the Washington Post, regulators from the D.C. Lottery met with officials from the arena to go through an interview.
All told, in addition to the arena, another 13 bars have gained approval from alcohol regulators to offer sports betting, with another 16 applications waiting for approval. All 29 taverns will need approval from the D.C. Lottery as well before being able to offer betting.
“The Lottery is committed to maximizing revenue generated for the District through the responsible management and sale of innovative and entertaining game offerings,” D.C. Lottery spokeswoman Nicole Jordan said in an email to the Washington Post.
If lottery officials approve the Capital One Arena application, the facility’s sportsbook will have less than three weeks to be operationally functional as the Super Bowl will be held on Sunday, February 2nd.
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