Washington DC, Charles Dickens’ City of Magnificent Intentions, has become the eighth US state to legalise sports betting after a council vote almost unanimously approved a bill there, 11-2.
The Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act, authored by city council member Jack Evans in September, opens the door to retail and digital sports betting in the nation’s capital, with competitive taxes (ten percent of yield) and no integrity or data fees attached.
With a population of under 700,000 people, the small but significant state has been lauded for its mostly rational regime. Although certain stakeholders have been less impressed by restrictions to the all- important mobile channel.
Currently only one mobile concession has been granted, to the DC Lottery’s Intralot powered platform. A number of other facilities, such as the city’s main sports arenas, will be able to sign their own partners and offer mobile betting, but only within a two-block exclusivity zone wherein not competition is allowed. The AGA’s VP of public affairs Sarah Slane, commended the bulk of the new legislation, but said the mobile monopolies would “predictably result in less investment and innovation, to the detri- ment 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 AGA has subsequently urged DC lawmakers to reconsider “the merits of this key aspect of their framework and allow greater competition in the future.”
Even Ted Leonsis, serial sports investor and owner of two Washington DC sports teams (the NBA’s Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals) said the mobile restrictions represented a “disservice to fans, who don’t get the benefit of competition in the marketplace.”
DC’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer projects betting revenues of $7.6m for the second half of 2019, then $26m in 2020, rising to $30m in 2022.