DC Approval of Sportsbook Regulations Allows Licensing Process to Begin

  • Regulations allow existing sportsbooks in other states to obtain a provisional license
  • This will allow such operators to open a sportsbook straight away
  • Two licensing options available - one for sports venues and another for local establishments
  • Fee for Class A and B licenses set at $500,000 and $100,000 respectively
The Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
The D.C. Lottery will begin accepting license applications in the coming weeks after formally approving sports betting regulations. [Image: Shutterstock]

Seal of approval

The District of Columbia Lottery (D.C. Lottery) has given the green light to new sports betting regulations. This means that the application process for sportsbook licenses can begin in the next few weeks. 

Sports betting will be available in Washington, D.C. through the four main sporting arenas in the district. Bettors will also be able to place wagers at establishments like hotels, restaurants and bars, as long as they are not within a two-block radius of the sporting arenas. 

Provisional licenses available

One key aspect of the approved regulations is that operators already established in other regulated states will be able to get a provisional license in D.C. quicker than those without such operations. This will allow them to get a head start on their competitors. 

Speaking on this issue, Nicole Jordan, the director for marketing and communications at the D.C. Lottery, said:

If someone is coming and has never opened a sportsbook, of course, we have to start from scratch in doing that due diligence.”

Successful applicants for a provisional license will be allowed to operate their sportsbook for six months until their application is fully approved. These provisional licenses can also be extended for good cause.

Officials were hoping to have sportsbooks open in time for the start of the NFL season. However, the season beings on September 6, so it will be a number of weeks before sportsbooks can open through provisional licenses initially. 

Conditions of these licenses

There is no guarantee that holders of a provisional license will secure a permanent license. These operators still need to meet all of the requirements outlined by the D.C. Lottery.

To receive a provisional license, the operator must operate a sportsbook in one of the following areas; British Columbia (Canada), West Virginia, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Nevada, Mississippi, or Delaware.

Intralot is the sole provider of sports betting in the district, outside of the four sporting arenas. These four venues can independently choose their own sportsbook operators. 

License application process

It will cost $500,000 for each of the four sports venues to obtain a Class A license. Other local businesses will be applying for a Class B license, which will set them back $100,000.

If an application is for a joint venture with a disadvantaged, small or resident-owned company being the main shareholder, the application fee drops by 75%. 

Management service providers (MSP) face a $10,000 fee to secure a license. This is for a company operating a sportsbook on behalf of a licensed location. 

Class A and B licenses will last for a five-year period. Renewal fees will cost $250,000 and $50,000 respectively. MSP licenses must be renewed annually at a cost of $2,000.

In regards to mobile sports betting, it can only take place within the two-block radius for a Class A license and within the facility for a Class B license. 

For lottery retailers wanting to offer sports betting, they can obtain a two-year license that will initially cost $5,000. The renewal fee will be $2,000. 

As well as collecting these license fees, the D.C. Lottery will be charging a gross revenue tax of 10%. 

Path to legal sports betting

The Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act was introduced on December 4, 2018. It quickly received approval from the D.C. Council and on January 22, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the bill. 

This made it the first district in the United States to legalize sports betting. There was a 60-day review period and there were a few points of contention along the way. One of the main topics debated was the awarding of the sports betting license to a sole provider, Intralot.