Washington, DC, Allows Sports Betting at Sporting Arenas

  • Legal sports betting has made rapid progress in Washington, DC
  • It hit one or two obstacles but they were quickly overcome
  • Now it is confirmed that sports betting will be coming to the Capital One Arena, which hosts the district’s NBA and NHL teams
  • A $250,000 fee will be charged for a five-year license and there will be a two-block exclusivity zone
Washington, DC, skyline
Washington, DC, will soon have legal sports betting and there will be a sportsbook at the Capital One Arena.

Sports betting in Washington, DC

Since the federal ban on sports betting came to an end in May 2018, most states in the country have been looking at the possibility of legalized sports betting.

Washington, DC, has made rapid strides to having its own version of sports betting. The Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act 2018 was on a fast track to approval in the capital.

It was introduced on December 4 by Councilman Jack Evans and it was quickly passed by an 11-2 vote. Other states took many months to get past this stage, but it only took a few weeks in Washington.

The bill would levy a 10% tax on the gross revenues from sportsbooks. The license fee for the district’s sporting arenas was set at $500,000. Other establishments looking to offer sports betting would be subject to a $100,000 license fee. There could be future revisions to these license fees.

For those partnering with local businesses, discounts will be offered on the license fees. Only private establishments like restaurants and bars can offer sports betting, in addition to the sporting arenas.

Stumbling block overcome

The entire control of the sector would be in the hands of the DC Lottery, which would be the only operator outside of the sporting arenas for the foreseeable future. That was the main stumbling block on the issue.

Many did not want the lottery authority to have exclusivity. Everything was going well and it looked as if sportsbooks would be open by July 1. However, Mayor Muriel Bowser took her time signing this bill into law. Then there was a major snag.

At a meeting on January 8, the DC Council decided that legal sports betting would no longer be a priority and bill went from being an emergency measure to a normal legislative measure. Therefore, it required a public hearing before getting approval.

The Mayor finally signed the bill on January 22. However, before it becomes law, there will be a 60 day review period. This is because it contains a fiscal impact, requiring review by the US Congress.

Overcoming obstacles

In mid-February, the council approved a new bill to speed up the implementation of sports betting. There will be no competitive bidding process under this bill.

The DC Lottery chose Intralot to offer sports betting in the district. This means that Intralot will be the only provider of mobile sports betting in DC. The council believes that sports betting would arrive a lot faster if there was only a single operator and no bidding process.

It was thought that the bidding process could take as long as two years to complete. This bill also needs to be signed by the Mayor before a contract can be set in stone. Once there is a contract between Intralot and DC, it will have to get approval from the council. Therefore, it seems that legal sports betting will be open for business by the fall.

Sporting arenas

Ted Leonsis, owner of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals, has confirmed that sports betting will be coming to the Capital One Arena. It looks as if a former restaurant in the arena will be transformed into a sportsbook.

The arena hosts both teams and MGM Resorts is the official gaming partner of both leagues.

While MGM cannot get access to the standard Washington DC sports betting market, there are exceptions for four facilities in the district. These are the Capital One Arena, Audi Field, Nationals Park, and the St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena.

The fee will be $250,000 for five years and there will be an exclusivity zone, with no competition within a two-block radius. These sportsbooks will probably be allowed to offer a mobile sportsbook app only inside of the exclusivity zone.