Legal sports gambling in Washington, D.C., will be delayed beyond at least part, if not most, of the upcoming NFL football and college football season. Local government officials are continuing to work on a set of rules and guidelines concerning how sports betting will operate within the nation’s capital.
While some in the District were hoping to fast-track the city’s oversight procedures to get at least some portion of its newly legalized sports betting market to consumers before the pigskin starts to fly this fall, it looks like D.C. residents will have to look elsewhere for 2019.
The D.C. Lottery, which will oversee sports betting, is still receiving comments on the draft set of rules it posted in June. It asked for public comment from gaming and sports companies. The 90-page proposal supports the implementation of the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018, the sports betting bill that City Council passed in December 2018.
The proposed regulations were subject to a 30-day comment period, but have gone well past that span because, according to the Washington Post, the rules received hundreds of pages of comments that the D.C. Lottery is still sorting through.
“I don’t know how long … that will throw off the launch,” D.C. Lottery executive director Beth Bresnahan said, according to the Washington Post. “But it’s important to know that we want to ensure we are responding to comments and concerns.”
Part of the issue might be the complicated nature of the D.C. sports betting law. The law includes both in-person betting at brick-and-mortar locations such as arenas, bars, restaurants and convenience store kiosks, as well as a single mobile betting option that will be operated by the city.
Because D.C. doesn’t already have any casinos or racetracks, implementing a system of oversight for in-person gambling at various businesses across the city has been a challenging endeavor.
D.C. officials won’t even start accepting applications for these types of businesses until September, and the approval process will take three to six months. However, provisional licenses can be granted within 30 to 45 days and would give operators a way to start taking bets while they go through the full approval process.
Additionally, businesses that sell alcohol must submit an application to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration to update their liquor licenses so they can offer sports betting on the premises. That is similar to how bars have to receive approval for outdoor patios. So far, six D.C. establishments have applied for those updates to their liquor licenses.
Mobile betting will only be allowed through the city-run app, which isn’t scheduled to launch until January. There was much consternation by media and some local government officials over the no-bid selection process which identified Intralot as D.C.’s lottery vendor. But city officials ultimately vetted and approved that company to oversee mobile sports gambling as well as provide additional betting kiosks at convenience stores and other small businesses.
Regardless, it looks like D.C. will punt on offering mobile sports betting to residents at the start of the upcoming football season. In fact, the most lucrative betting season in the United States will by and large be complete by the time mobile betting comes to the District, save for potential playoff games and the Super Bowl.