Washington DC Mobile Sports Betting Launch Suffers Yet Another Delay

  • Mobile sports betting launch was originally intended for fall 2019
  • Delayed until January 2020, now postponed until some time in Q1 2020
  • DC Lottery updated exclusivity zones, restricting more businesses from sports betting license
  • Application process for Class A and Class B licenses to open on December 3
Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
The DC Lottery has further delayed the launch of the Intralot mobile sports betting app, which is now set for release in Q1 of 2020. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The latest stumbling block in the district

The DC Lottery has once again delayed the launch of mobile sports betting in the district. Originally, the mobile app provided by Intralot was to be in place and operational by fall 2019.

app launch will now take place at some stage in the first quarter of 2020

The release date was then forced back to January 2020, owing to a legal case. According to a DC Lottery spokesperson, the app launch will now take place at some stage in the first quarter of 2020. 

Issues revolving around exclusivity zones

Four “exclusivity zones” in Washington, D.C. have been marked as being outside the scope of using Intralot as a mobile sportsbook operator. These are located within a two-block radius of the Capital One Arena, the Audi Field, the Entertainment and Sports Arena, and Nats Park.

This week, the DC Lottery released an updated map of the exclusivity zones. It sees the four areas being expanded in their scope, restricting further businesses from applying for a sports betting license.

In comparison to the zones originally released in August, there are now more than six new small operations within the exclusivity zones. These businesses had been looking at participating in and profiting from sports betting.

Businesses against the exclusivity zone expansion

None of the small businesses that lie within a two-block radius of the four exclusivity zones are able to operate their own app for sports betting. Therefore, they cannot profit from sports betting.

BetDC, a group made up of more than 28 bars and restaurants, have been working as a team to try and protect their sports betting interests. The group filed appeals regarding the exclusivity zones, but no official response has been communicated to date.

A DC Lottery spokesperson said in August that the scope of the exclusivity zones was final, but is now stating that the latest “slight revisions” had to be made for clarification purposes. 

The licensing process set to open shortly

The application processes for both Class A and Class B licenses will be open on December 3. This means that the four sporting arenas and all of the relevant businesses across the district can start applying. 

Gaming attorney Jeff Ifrah, who set up BetDC, said:

We’ve been waiting for two months for these applications to become available. We trust that the lottery will be fair and transparent in awarding licenses.”

It will take the DC Lottery between 30 and 45 days to review all the respective applications, after which it can begin issuing approvals. With the Super Bowl taking place at the start of February, Ifrah hopes that sportsbooks will be able to open in time for this lucrative betting event. 

The legal case delaying mobile sports betting

The no-bid contract that the DC Lottery awarded to Intralot to provide mobile sports betting in the district was challenged in court in the fall. This saw a judge issue a temporary restraining order which prevented the app launch from taking place in September.

The restraining order was lifted mid-October, but the lawsuit remains pending. 

Legal sports betting has been in the works in Washington, D.C. since the introduction of its legislation in December 2018. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act into law on January 22, 2019. 

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