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The Washington Nationals, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, several major professional sports leagues, MGM, and daily fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel have joined together to get the D.C. Council to pass a bill that would allow sports leagues to earn 25 cents for every $100 bet on games in the District.
In addition, the various entities, which also include the NBA, MLB, and the PGA Tour, want up to 10 licensed betting operators as opposed to one that is run solely by the DC Lottery.
City Paper has obtained a copy of the one-page flyer circulated around the Wilson Building this week that details what the various organizations say are “essential components” for legal sports betting operations in D.C. (You can read it in full at the bottom of this page.)
“A competitive market will allow operators to partner with the District’s small businesses and spend major marketing dollars and at local businesses, creating jobs and contributing more money into the local economy,” the flyer reads.
In mid-September, Councilmembers Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Vince Gray, Anita Bonds, and Robert White Jr. introduced a bill that would legalize sports wagering in D.C. In May, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck down a federal law and cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting within their borders.
On Nov. 28, the Council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue reported favorably on the bill and recommended its approval by the D.C. Council. Evans, who chairs the finance committee, says he predicts the law will be effect in the District by the end of February, if all goes according to his plan.
“I want to see fans running by [Nationals Park] on Opening Day and betting on Bryce Harper taking the first pitch,” says Evans. “That’s my goal.”
In the meantime, the Council will have opportunities to make changes to the bill. “I’m not wedded to any of this stuff,” Evans says, meaning that he’s open to amending various aspects of the bill. It currently states that DC Lottery would be “authorized to partner with vendors to offer in-person and online sports wagering.”
The memo from the sports organizations argues that having DC Lottery as the exclusive operator of mobile sports betting would amount to a “state-run monopoly” on sports gambling that would “cost the District millions of dollars in lost revenue.” The authors of the flyer also say the small fee paid by the sports betting operators to the professional sports organizations “will create a massive benefit to the District and D.C. businesses, as it will form a strong partnership among local government, betting operators, and the sports leagues.”
Evans calls the request to grant licenses to multiple operators, “a reasonable position.” At a public hearing in October, the councilmember emphasized that the Council should move quickly “before our neighboring jurisdictions.” West Virginia, New Jersey, and Delaware all currently offer sports gambling.
“You can see the cluster around us,” he said, according to WTOP. “It’s my view that over the course of the next several years, sports betting will be across the country.”
Supporters of the bill argue that the revenue earned from taxes on sports betting will benefit worthy causes in the city.
Gray said during the public hearing that the revenue would go towards arts and children’s education. “This is an opportunity now to put the money from an endeavor that I think lots of people will participate in, into something that nobody can argue with,” he said, as reported by WTOP.
Opponents of legal sports betting have said that it would unfairly impact low-income residents. Other opposition groups have argued, as reported in detail by ESPN, that legal sports betting can negatively affect those battling gambling addictions.
Tom Sherwood contributed to this report.