D.C. Sports Betting Bill Moves Forward After Securing Necessary Support

The Capitol, Little Rock, Arkansas

States across the US are quickly adding sports betting and it seems that the District of Columbia may be next in line to pass legislation, as a recent proposal gains the necessary support to move forward.

The Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 is a bill that was proposed by D.C. council member Jack Evans. The bill was introduced back in September and would legalize in-person and online sports betting in the region, setting a 10% tax on gross revenues from wagers.

Moving forward

At a committee hearing this week in D.C., Evans announced he has the support needed to move his bill forward and legalize the option, before neighboring states such as Maryland and Virginia get started with the new industry.

Evans said: “Sports betting is going to happen across the country, I would imagine in over 40 states. I want legalized sports betting in the District ahead of Virginia and Maryland, before their legislatures convene in January.”

Evans stated further that the mayor of D.C., members of the council and D.C.’s chief financial officer are all on the same page, ready to see sports betting come to the district. The sports betting bill must be passed by the committee on finance and revenue and then it can come up for a vote with the full council.

If approved, it would then move to Mayor Muriel Bowser by year end. Once she signs her approval, Congress would have a 30-day time frame in which to challenge the measure. If no challenge is made, the bill will become law.

Getting started

If the bill is able to move forward and become law, the District of Columbia would be ready to start sports betting hopefully during the first quarter of 2019. D.C. lottery executive director Beth Bresnahan stated that the region could be offering sports betting within six months or less after sports betting is legalized.

Evans wants to see sports betting ready by the opening day of the upcoming major league baseball season at the end of March. This could be possible if the measure keeps moving forward at its current pace.

For operators to get started in the region, they would have to apply for a sports betting license and pay an application fee. The license will cost only $50,000. Betting infrastructure could then be placed inside sports venues and other land-based facilities.

Evans has mentioned the major sports venues of D.C. in the past, including the Audi Stadium, Capital One Arena and the Nationals Park, all being places where gambling could take place.

While there was no major opposition during the hearing, the National Council on Problem Gambling was represented by Keith Whyte, who recommended that D.C. create a problem gambling safety net before sports betting begins.

The Department of Health does not currently provide services for gambling addiction to any resident of D.C.

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