D.C. Mayor Signs Sports Betting Legislation, But Questions Remain

Legal sports betting is one step closer to launching in the District of Columbia, but controversy and questions still remain.
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After several weeks of consideration, the District of Columbia’s mayor has put her signature on a sports betting bill. It’s a major development in the timeline for the latest U.S. jurisdiction to seek regulation.

Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, signed the legislation on Wednesday, moving D.C. sports betting one step closer to reality. The legislation now advances to the U.S. Congress for review, as is customary.

The D.C. City Council passed the legislation late last year.

D.C. officials could launch sports betting during the 60-day window.

Under the D.C. plan, online/mobile betting would be allowed.

Hurdles still remain

On Monday, D.C. officials will meet to try to sort out a major detail — who can offer online/mobile sports betting outside the exclusivity zones for the sports stadiums? Handing over sports betting to Intralot, through the D.C. Lottery, without a competitive bidding process has been floated. The public is encouraged to attend the high-stakes hearing.

The D.C. Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act has so far created more headache than excitement. The sports betting bill marks D.C.’s second attempt at online gambling, as it repealed an online gaming law in 2012.

Proponents of the plan to give a virtual online/mobile monopoly to Intralot without a competitive bidding process reportedly believe it would allow D.C. to launch much more quickly, which, in their view, would be better than taking the time to find a cheaper sports betting partner.

The stakes are high for sports bettors because the end result could be less attractive lines/odds.

The debate surrounding the operator has place increased scrutiny on D.C.’s sports betting plans.

The D.C.-based American Gaming Association isn’t too thrilled with what’s happening in D.C.

“While the vote today [Dec. 18] is progress, we remain deeply concerned about giving the lottery a virtual monopoly in the mobile market,” the AGA said in a statement last year. “Predictably, this will result in less investment and innovation, to the detriment of consumers and the ability of a nascent legal marketplace to compete with the accessibility and convenience offered by many established illegal wagering operations.”

The situation remains a fluid one. Check back here and SportsHandle.com early next week for the latest.

D.C. is one of a slew of jurisdictions looking to launch sports betting this year.


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