Washington, DC Sportsbooks Unlikely to Open in Time for Super Bowl

  • Only the Capital One Arena has applied for a sports betting license to date
  • Application was submitted on December 23, with the review process taking 30-45 days
  • Sportsbooks aim to open in time for March Madness, DC Lottery mobile app to launch early March
American football players
With sporting businesses slow to submit their sports betting license application, the possibility of Washington, D.C. having open sportsbooks in time for the Super Bowl is looking less likely. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Not looking optimistic

Washington, D.C. sportsbooks will not likely be open in time for the Super Bowl. With the NFL’s annual championship game taking place on February 2, only one venue has officially applied for a sports betting license to date.

The Super Bowl is the most popular sports event to bet on in the United States, bringing in vast sums of money for sportsbooks.

timeline to review such applications will be between 30 and 45 days

The Capital One Arena, home to the Washington Wizards (NBA) and the Washington Capitals (NHL), submitted its application for a Class A provisional sports betting license on December 23, 2019. The four sporting arenas in Washington, D.C. can only apply for such a license. The venues that are still to submit their application are the Entertainment and Sports Arena, Nationals Park, and Audi Field. 

According to the DC Lottery, the timeline to review such applications will be between 30 and 45 days. 

Businesses are slow moving

The Capital One Arena has plans for a sportsbook in the Green Turtle area, which is currently under construction to make it fit for use. However, the venue has not yet filed its request to have sports betting as part of its alcohol license. 

The Capital One already has a partnership with American Wagering, a subsidiary of British sportsbook William Hill. While you have to be at least 18 years old to place a sports bet in Washington, D.C., the sportsbook at this arena is set to have a minimum age requirement of 21 years old.

Thirty other small businesses across the region have made this sports betting addition to their alcohol license, but they are yet to apply for an actual sportsbook license. 

Speaking about the timeline for sports betting, Jeff Ifrah from Bet DC said: “Even if the DC Lottery worked super quickly on reviewing those applications, there’s no way they were going to get them done before the Super Bowl, and at that point, applicants are sort of dismayed.”

A likelier timeline for sportsbooks

It now appears that sportsbooks will be looking at opening in time for March Madness. The college basketball tournament is also a massive driver of sports betting handle in the US.

In 2019, Nevada saw an all-time monthly record of close to $600m in total handle for the month of March.

The DC Lottery is planning to have its own sports betting app launched and open to the public by the beginning of March. 

Delay after delay

Sports betting has been legal in Washington, D.C. since February 2019. However, there have been numerous delays in opening up the licensing process and getting open sportsbooks to market. 

The main reason for the setback was the controversial awarding of the main mobile sports betting contract to Intralot, which did not involve a competitive bidding process. A number of legal challenges were filed against this almost-exclusive sports betting license as a result.

In the wake of the Intralot controversy, the main driver of legal sports betting in the district, Councilmember Jack Evans, is to resign on January 17 over ethics violations.

Only the four D.C. sporting arenas are able to work with other sports betting operators, with their offerings allowed within a two-mile radius of the facilities. 

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