District of Columbia lawmakers have managed to successfully pass a bill that will see sports betting legalized in Washington D.C. Voted on during the final sessions of the year, this is a small timely success for the pro-betting lobby.
Washington DC Passes Sports Betting in the Nick of Time
The final days of 2018 are upon us and with them, the final legislative debates in each state are taking place. In Washington, D.C. this amounted to the passing of a sports betting bill, which will affectively see the industry legalized. If successful, the industry will add $92 million in fresh capital for the state in the space of four years.
After a little over a year, the 2018 Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act authored by Jack Evans and first introduced in September, 2017, managed to clear the legislative body of the state, winning 11 votes in its favor and only 2 against.
One of the noteworthy opponents was David Grasso who promptly raised concerns over problem gambling and other addictive practices which could be the direct result of passing legislation such as this.
Only one hurdle needs to be cleared now for Washington, D.C. to start issuing its sports betting licenses, meaning the endorsement of Mayor Muriel Browser who hasn’t shown signs of opposition. After Mr. Browser has done approving the bill, he will then need to forward it to the U.S. Congress, where the document could take up to 60 days to be reviewed and finally legitimized.
An Industry on the Cusp of Birth
According to Mr. Evans, the current developments are just a start. Lawmakers and sports betting experts anticipate more changes to streamline the final product.
To adapt to the changes, the watchdog for Washington D.C. will be changed to the Office of Lottery and Gaming and will serve like any other regulator body across the United States, which is tasked with vetting operators and granting licenses.
Today I will introduce the "Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018" during the Council's Committee of the Whole meeting. The legislation's purpose is to legalize sports betting in D.C. while creating strong regulatory structures that ensure consumer confidence. pic.twitter.com/zi4UBV4fvC
— Jack Evans (@JackEvansWard2) September 18, 2018
The licenses will also come at a fair price, much cheaper than in places such as Pennsylvania, for example. To obtain a Class A certificate, interested operators will have to pay $250,000, with the license allowing them to run their operations for a period of five years. As a result, companies can choose one of the following venues to carry out their sports betting activies:
- Capital One Area
- Audi Field
- Nationals Park
- St. Elizabeths East Entertainment Sports Arena
Each facility operates a number of major sporting events, including Major League Soccer, National Hockey League, and others, making the hand-picked locations a perfect match for anyone interested in developing the activities further.
Anyone who prefers to run their business outside of the aforementioned facilities will be granted Class B licenses and be charged $50,000 instead, with the license again extending over a period of five years.
Operators will contribute 10% of their gross revenue in the form of tax. The funds will be distributed between multiple public initiatives and funds as well fuel the state’s coffers in general. The Department of Behavioral Health will receive $200,000 to further the fight against gambling addiction.
While the vote today is progress, we remain deeply concerned about giving the lottery a virtual monopoly in the mobile market. – AGA Senior Vice President Sara Slane
Multiple industry experts, including the American Gaming Association (AGA) has welcomed the move, but cautioned against some oversights. Because of the rather smaller scale of the market, the 10% was well-picked to allow companies to gain a foothold. If the turnover beats expectations, though, it’s likely for the state to re-think its taxation policies.