Washington DC Council Approves Bill to Fast-Track Legal Sports Betting

DC Capitol at night
Washington DC’s city council approves sports betting to be implemented as quickly as possible.

30-second summary:

  • Washington DC council members approve bill to skip competitive bidding process for a new lottery contract
  • Fast-tracking process was chosen due to worry that competitive bidding could take up to two years to complete
  • DC would have received less than expected revenues as a result
  • The DC Lottery operator, Intralot, will be the only online provider of sports wagering in the region
  • Brick and mortar facilities can offer wagering via app but only on-site

After approving the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 late last year, the Washington DC City Council has now passed a bill to speed up the implementation process of sports betting.

With the new bill, DC will skip the competitive bidding process. It will not seek a new lottery contract, and the current DC Lottery operator will provide the city’s sports betting application.


The operator of the Washington DC Lottery is Intralot. With the recent bill passage, the company will be the only provider of an app offering online sports wagering. Lawmakers were quick to act on sports betting, choosing Intralot as the provider so that gaming could start sooner rather than later.

The process of allowing competitive bidding for the application was expected to take as many as two years to complete. With that time frame, DC would not have been able to earn the expected revenues.

The council worked fairly quickly to move legislation through. After the US Supreme Court legalized sports betting in May 2018, a bill was introduced in September. Reports estimated that DC could generate as much as $90m from revenues over the first four years of operation.

Council chair Phil Mendelson said: “This will result in early revenue and maximize the ability of the District to be an early adopter of sports wagering.”

According to VSO News, the city council approved the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 in December with a vote of 11-2. The approval took place just a few days after the bill was introduced by Councilman Jack Evans.

Fall target for sports betting

Now that the final vote is completed, negotiations with the city and Intralot should begin. Mayor Muriel Bowser must first sign the bill before a new contract can be worked on. It is believed that a contract could be created within a two-month time frame.

Once a contract has been created between DC and Intralot, it must be submitted to the council. The council will have to give its approval before the contract is valid. According to city officials, sports betting may be ready by the fall of 2019.

Sports betting in DC will be on offer at arenas and stadiums in the city. Brick and mortar venues such as restaurants and bars can also offer wagering. The bill does state that the brick and mortar businesses located within a two-block area of an arena or stadium that offers sports betting cannot provide the service.

Intralot will have the exclusive right to operate a sports betting app across the city. Private operators will be allowed to offer apps too, but only within existing brick and mortar venues.

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