If a trio of bars in the nation’s capital get their way, patrons will soon find sports betting on the menu. Sports betting was approved by the DC Council in December by an 11-2 vote of the district Council and now the first venues are moving in to get a piece of the action.
Under the new law, stadiums, bars and restaurants may apply for sports betting licenses. Additionally, Greek betting operator Intralot has been chosen to manage a sports betting app on behalf of the DC Lottery.
Last week, three bars took the lead and applied for authorization to offer sports betting. Let’s take a look at their path ahead and a broader look at the landscape for DC sports betting.
Three DC Bars Apply for Sports Betting Licenses
The Brig, Duffy’s Irish Pub, and Wet Dog Tavern have all applied for the new licenses required to offer sports betting. As local lawyer Jeff Ifrah explained to WTOP, the process isn’t exactly cut and dry. He’s hoping local bars and taverns can join forces to smooth things out:
“The concept of having the network of bars together and the terms and the commercial agreements, those are very far along.
“The current problem is that there’s a lot of contingencies around what the regulations are going to look like, and there’s been no guidance on that from the lottery.
“They’re obviously preoccupied with their own things right now, including standing up their own product.”
Ifrah also manages Bet D.C., which seeks to establish a network of bars and restaurants with sports betting and release an app directing where sports fan can go to place their wagers.
On the plans submitted to ABRA, The Brig noted that it hopes to launch a pair of self-serve kiosks as well as a full-service window.
“They have a very small FAQ on the website; it doesn’t really cover everything,” said Ryan Roller, general manager of The Brig.
“We just wish there was a set timeline in writing that we could adhere to. We’re not 100% sure of when stuff is going to go before the ANC (Advisory Neighborhood Commission) board to approve.”
Where Things Stand on Sports Betting in DC
Sports betting was formally legalized in February but has not yet gone live in DC. Plans call for the first sportsbooks to be up and running by the upcoming football season, which is quickly approaching.
Despite the bill’s successful passage, there has still been no small amount of controversy behind the scenes related to the way the contract to manage sports betting has been handled.
As the Washington Post reported last month, much of the estimated $215 million contract will benefit “a handful of local companies without an extensive record in the industry” that will all serve as subcontractors to Intralot.
To make the whole thing look even more questionable, the DC Council skipped the usual competitive bidding process in selecting Intralot to manage sports betting.
Council member Jack Evans (who is mired in a controversy of his own) and other DC officials contend their decision to skip the competitive bidding process was motivated only by a desire to get DC sports betting up and running as quickly as possible and ahead of neighboring states.
The Office of Lottery and Gaming officially oversees sports betting in DC, but it sounds like Intralot has plenty of pull as well.
Sportsbooks Also Coming to DC-Area Stadiums
The new Washington DC sports betting law issues two types of licenses to retail sportsbook operators. Class B licenses are reserved for the operators of bars and restaurants such as the three discussed above.
Additionally, local stadiums may apply for a Class A license to operate on-site sportsbooks. Capital One Arena, Audi Field, Nationals Park and St. Elizabeth’s East Entertainment & Sports Arena may all request licenses under the new law. RFK Stadium is the odd one out here and will not be allowed to offer sports betting due to its location on federal land.
Back in March, Monumental Sports CEO Ted Leonsis announced plans to open a sportsbook at Capital One Arena, home to the NBA’s Wizards and the NHL’s Capitals. At the time, he detailed a sportsbook that would be accessible from outside the arena and possibly from inside depending on the event.
The following month, plans were unveiled for a new restaurant and entertainment venue located at Nationals Park. While it’s still pending formal announcement, there has been a ton of speculation that the new facility will include a sportsbook.
The district’s other main sports venues, Audi Field and St. Elizabeth’s Entertainment and Sports Arena, are also expected to join the fray.