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The DC Lottery has had to once again announce that sports betting in the district is on hold. Officials hoped that the district would open sports betting via mobile app sometime in January but now suggest that it will be later in the first quarter of 2020.
The district’s mobile app has faced legal and technical challenges after a lawsuit from a local software developer stopped the development of the app after a temporary restraining order was placed on the DC Lottery halting all progress for a January launch date.
The lawsuit is still pending, but a District Judge did drop the temporary restraining order, allowing the Lottery to re-continue the creation of the mobile app for D.C bettors to use once sports betting became open.
“Hopefully, the delay of the District-wide app won’t translate to a further delay for us,” said gaming attorney Jeff Ifrah. The attorney has put together a group of small businesses working together to develop a sports betting app that will work within the premises of their business locations.
Ifrah, head of Bet DC, is hoping the district will open their limited sports betting areas allowing small businesses to participate, but as it stands, officials have marked off four exclusivity zones. Ifrah’s group has protested that the zones are far too small for inclusion.
The exclusivity zones are all located within a two-block radius of D.C. professional sports venues. The district’s mobile app will only work within those zones, giving the sports franchises a large monopoly over betting in the district.
“We’re extremely disappointed at this development,” Ifrah said. “We were expecting a small business-friendly amendment, not one that makes the situation worse.”
Ifrah represents several small businesses looking for an appeal of the original maps, hoping the district will rezone the two-block areas around the arenas, allowing several more restaurants to offer sports betting.
Officials did redraw the maps slightly for clarity purposes but some of Ifrah’s clients were still left out of the sports betting zone.
On December 3rd, all four of the district’s professional sports teams and the included small business will be able to apply for gaming licenses.
“We’re very excited to get started,” Ifrah said. “We’ve been waiting for two months for these applications to become available. We trust that the lottery will be fair and transparent in awarding licenses.”
Once betting becomes live in Washington D.C., customers will soon discover that they are only eligible to bet in these four zones and the establishments that are lucky enough to fit within the exclusivity areas.
And if that isn’t confusing enough, each venue, Capital One Arena, Nats Park, Audi Field and the Entertainment and Sports Arena will have their own app to go along with the district’s mobile application.
DC Lottery officials believe that the application review process will take roughly 30-45 days before licenses are granted to business and the arenas.
“Hopefully, they’ll approve them quickly,” Ifrah said. “We want to get going right away. We still hope to be live by the Super Bowl, and this gives us a shot.”
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