The D.C. Court of Appeals has denied a challenge to the exclusive $215m no-bid online sports betting contract awarded to Intralot in the US capital.
Washington, D.C. resident Dylan Carragher brought the case to Superior Court, claiming that there should have been a competitive tender process for the online betting contract.
allegations relate to his “frustrated desire” to launch his own online sportsbook
The Court of Appeals ruled that Carragher, the owner of esportsbet.gg, did not show that he was the recipient of any “injury in fact.” Judge John M. Campbell claimed that his allegations relate to his “frustrated desire” to launch his own online sportsbook in the D.C. marketplace. The judge stated that there is no such marketplace and that one would not have emerged even if there had been a competitive bidding process.
No damage to taxpayers
The second argument in the appeal was the claim that taxpaying D.C. residents suffered monetary “injury” because of the no-bid contract. Carragher believed that more revenue would go to the district if there was a competitive bidding process.
The Office of Lottery and Gaming cited an estimate that the district would lose out on about $60m in revenue if there was a competitive bidding process because any online sportsbook launch would end up delayed three years.
The court sided with the defendant, stating that the “mere loss of potential revenue is not a cognizable injury to the generic municipal taxpayer.”
The launch of sports betting
The D.C. Council approved sports betting legislation in December 2018 and Mayor Muriel Bowser signed it into law in January 2019. There were subsequent concerns about possible connections between government officials and Intralot.
Dylan Carragher also began legal action last year, obtaining a temporary restraining order that stalled Intralot’s contract for a few weeks.
odds on offer for different sporting events were not competitive
After numerous delays, sports betting finally launched in Washington, D.C. in May 2020. However, the GamBetDC app powered by Intralot was subject to much criticism following the soft launch, including that the odds on offer for different sporting events were not competitive.
Lack of success so far
Revenue figures have been disappointing since launch, with the retail sportsbook operated by William Hill at the Capital One Arena performing much better than the District’s lone online product. In September, William Hill’s handle was $12.2m, compared to just $3.3m for GamBetDC.
Another retail sportsbook is to open in the District in November. The Handle19 Sportsbook is expecting to get a green light from the DC Lottery by the end of the month, with the hope that the offering can launch in advance of Thanksgiving (November 26).
Operations in other states
As well as its operations in Washington, D.C., Intralot also has a presence in other US regions. It currently has a role in the operations of 12 state lotteries across the country.
The operator recently announced the introduction of new Fast Play games through the Illinois State Lottery, in partnership with Camelot Illinois. Intralot offers the relevant technology, while Camelot manages the state lottery. These new Fast Play titles are draw games that do not require players to scratch cards, pick numbers, or wait for the results. People can buy the new games through Illinois Lottery vending machines or terminals.
Similar to the case in D.C., there was controversy in Montana last year when Intralot received an exclusive online sports betting contract after a non-competitive bidding process.