Although not a state itself, Washington D.C. has now officially passed a piece of legislation that will allow legalized sports betting.
Earlier in the week, Washington D.C. lawmakers formally approved a bill that will expedite key legalization related to sporting gambling in the region while our nation’s capital could encounter legal sports wagering as early as Fall 2019.
There is one incredibly noteworthy aspect of this whole situation, however. Intralot will be legally allowed to monopolize the majority of Washington D.C.’s gambling entities.
With Washington D.C. now aligning with several states from throughout the union, the East Coast territory remains well ahead of its neighboring states in Virginia and Maryland in terms of making sports betting legal.
“This will result in early revenue and maximize the ability of the District to be an early adopter of sports wagering,” said Washington D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, via a report from WAMU 85.5.
The bill from lawmakers passed 8-4, while a separate measure from the city council passed 7-6. So the good news for residents of D.C. is that they’ll likely have sports betting before the end of 2019.
The bad news: this bill has permitted the region to skip the competitive bidding process altogether.
Intralot, who currently oversees Washington D.C.’s lottery system as well, is to become the only contractor and supervisor of legal sports wagering. Not only that, but Intralot has also received a renewed lottery contract as a result of this legislation – which certainly means more money for everyone involved.
Not everyone in the area is wholeheartedly in favor of such a bill being approved. Most notably, some of the opposition believes that pushing Intralot through without at least some competition will cost taxpayers more money in the end due to the newly approved sole source contract.
Additionally, many have pondered whether or not Washington D.C. is in fact receiving the best deal in the end. Because there is only one entity in the running, Intralot, lawmakers technically don’t have much to compare the pact to.
“We’re voting on legislation that is a rush to tax the poor, a rush to skirt procurement rules, and a rush to retain a company that was recently downgraded by Moody’s to B3 status which is a speculative grade and considered a high credit risk,” city council member David Grosso said, via WAMU 85.5.
Leading to the decision from earlier in the week, Washington D.C.’s Chief Financial Officer, Jeffrey DeWitt, stood in front of the city council’s Finance and Revenue Committee in order to testify on behalf of the preliminary legislation.
In doing so, DeWitt attempted to sway the opposition by stating that Intralot’s presence on both sides of the fence – the lottery and sports betting alike – would be the best financial decision for Washington D.C. overall. DeWitt has defended this point in previous interviews as well, including one with the Washington Post:
“I’m just gonna tell ya, there’s nothing there. This is a business decision. We have no horse in this race other than — not to use a sports betting analogy; unfortunately I just did — we’re just recommending what’s best financially.”
Washington D.C. residents will now have to wait and see what the deal with Intralot will involve, and how the monopoly will look once implemented.