Washington DC Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans wants to legalize sports betting in the nation’s capital. On Tuesday morning, Evans introduced the “Sports Wagering and Lottery Amendment Act of 2018” during the Committee of the Whole meeting for the Council of the District of Columbia.
In a press release issued prior to the meeting, Jack Evans announced that he would be introducing legislation to legalize and regulate in-person and limited online sports betting. The press release pointed to the proximity of other states to Washington DC that have legalized sports betting as motivation for the measure.
The Evans press release also referenced a recent Washington Post story discussing the launch of the sportsbook at Hollywood Casino in Charlestown, West Virginia. In that story, the GM of Hollywood Casino specifically detailed his casino’s plans to target the DC metro area due to there being no other legal alternatives in the area.
His logic is sound. Hollywood Casino is indeed well-positioned to take advantage of a lack of sports betting options in the DC-Baltimore area. In addition to West Virginia, other nearby states with sports betting include Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. New York state is also likely to move on sports betting at some point.
In short, DC residents will still have plenty of options even if Washington DC chooses not to legalize and regulate sports betting. If city residents are going to be betting on sports in other states anyways, DC might as well join the party and get a cut of the action.
Councilmember Evans said this in a statement included in the press release:
“Today, we take the first steps towards capturing this exciting new stream of revenue, instead of watching District resident dollars fill the coffers of other jurisdictions. District of Columbia will be the leader in a fast-growing industry. The city should take advantage of our ability to act before the Maryland or Virginia legislatures to create a thriving sports betting market, which will attract consumers to the District and generate revenue for District residents.”
Interestingly, Evans may already have support for his proposal from high places. According to Tuesday’s press release, the Councilmember’s office “worked closely with the District’s lottery” in crafting the legislation. Evans also has the support of Councilmembers Cheh, Gray and Todd as co-introducers.
First Look at the Washington DC Sports Betting Bill
The Washington Post obtained a full copy of the bill and it can be read in full here. The bill makes for a long read as it primarily amends existing legislation, but the key points follow:
- The Chief Financial Officer of DC tasked with forming rules and regulations to ensure the integrity of sports betting activities and to protect the economic welfare and interests in fair and honest play of sports bettors
- The bill also states that these regulations “shall include, but not be limited to,” issues dealing with how wagers are accepted, maximum bet sizes, types of wagering tickets used and how they are handled, accounting and tax reporting and more (page 6 of the bill is missing in action as of this writing)
- Sports betting operators are required to verify customers’ ages
- Operators shall offer self-exclusion programs
- Prohibit athletes, league officials and other associated personnel of sports leagues or their governing bodies from betting on sports overseen by their sport’s governing body
- Establishes an initial licensing fee of $50,000 for sports betting operators
- Licenses are good for five years and can be renewed for $50,000
- Sports betting revenue will be subject to a 10% tax rate in DC
- Operators may offer sports betting at approved locations including through internet, mobile and other digital platforms
- However, all mobile and online bets may only be “initiated and received or otherwise made exclusively within the physical confines of the approved sports wagering facility”
- Affiliates operating under a revenue share agreement must be licensed