On October 17, the D.C. Council had the first reading of “The Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018” (B22-944) before the Committee on Finance and Revenue.
“It is now in what is referred to as the ‘markup’ period and will likely go to a second hearing,” said DC Lottery Executive Director Beth Bresnahan. “If the Committee votes favorably on the bill, it will be referred to the Committee of the Whole which is comprised of all 13 councilmembers for consideration. While there are no dates scheduled as of yet, Councilmember Jack Evans, the bill’s sponsor, hopes to have it passed into law by the end of this year.”
Under this bill, the DC Lottery would be the entity responsible for regulating and operating sports wagering in D.C. “The DC Lottery will act as regulator of independent operators of sports betting throughout the District. We will license and monitor the independent operators for compliance and collect the proposed 10% tax on gross sports wagering revenue from the operator. The DC Lottery will also act as an operator of sports betting through a district-wide digital platform and a network of brick-and-mortar retailers,” she explained.
The bill will allow online sales of sports betting. “As the legislation is currently drafted, it authorizes the DC Lottery to operate a District-wide mobile and web-based sports betting platform,” said Bresnahan.
The legislation doesn’t address sports pools tickets. “Traditional retailers will have the opportunity to apply for a license to accept sports wagers through the DC Lottery-operated model. Additionally, our proposed digital platform rollout strategy would incorporate all of the DC Lottery’s existing retail network through the sale of game cards to start or fund online accounts,” said Bresnahan.
There are no restrictions on the number of sports wagering operators. “The DC Lottery may take into consideration whether the sports wagering proposed to be conducted by the applicant will have a positive impact on the District of Columbia and its residents through increased revenues when making licensing decisions,” said Bresnahan.
Legalizing sports wagering is a hot topic in neighboring jurisdictions. In addition, West Virginia Lottery launched sports betting in September.
“Maryland legislation calling for voter referendum on sports betting did not move forward in the 2018 legislative session; lawmakers are hopeful there will be a referendum in 2020,” said Bresnahan. “Virginia legislators are aiming to introduce a bill in the next legislative session that begins in January 2019.”