Odds boards at a race and sports book in Las Vegas
Odds boards at a race and sports book in Las Vegas Credit: Baishampayan Ghose/Wikimedia Commons

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Despite the D.C. Council’s desire to fast-track sports betting in D.C., a citywide mobile sports gambling app won’t be available until January 2020 at the earliest. A recent report from the Council’s finance and revenue committee expresses concern “with additional delay” over the DC Lottery’s rollout of its app.

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 in January of this year, just a month after the D.C. Council passed the bill. In February, the D.C. Council gave its final approve of the bill, which allows the DC Lottery to have a monopoly to operate a mobile-based app that consumers can use.

WTOP reported in April that sports gamblers would not be able to place bets on their smartphone via a citywide app until January 2020, and the Committee on Finance and Revenue, chaired by Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, states in its May report that the committee “is focused on the expectation that the Lottery’s sports wagering offering will be available January 2020.”

“As this offering accounted for $84.1 million of the projected $91.74 million in projected revenue from the legalization of sports wagering, the Committee is concerned with additional delay,” the report continues.

David Umansky, the public affairs officer for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, tells City Paper that the DC Lottery is currently in negotiations with Intralot, a Greek company that currently operates the DC Lottery’s gaming system, for “sole-source contract and is developing rules, regulations, and policies to administrate sports wagering in the city and to issue licenses.” The committee states in its report that it is troubled by the fact that Intralot’s financial health received a third downgrade in the past year.

The $84.1 million figure referenced by the committee, Umansky says, is the projected revenue over a four-year financial period that D.C. would make when the Office of Lottery and Gambling (OLG) is able to launch its public sports wagering operation, which includes a citywide app. A delay could prove to be costly.

“The app will begin generating revenue when it’s ready,” Umansky says. “First we have to have the contract with Intralot to build the system. When the system is ready and tested and working, then the app will come out. That will be in January.”

The projected start time of private sports wagering in the city is this September. According to Umansky, Class A licenses for private sports wagering facilities, including stadiums like National Park, Audi Field, Capital One Arena, and the Entertainment and Sports Arena, will be available in September. Class B Licenses for “individuals, group of individuals, or entities operating private sports wagering facilities” will also be available at that time.

After receiving the licenses, it will be up to the stadium operators to decide when to launch their own apps that can be used within a certain radius surrounding each venue.

The report states that the committee is encouraging the DC Lottery “to continuously monitor whether to pivot to a competitive mobile marketplace, especially considering the projected start of private sports wagering in September 2019 and the delayed timeline for the Lottery offering.”

Tom Sherwood and Mitch Ryals contributed to this report.