City lawmakers in Washington DC have overwhelmingly voted to green light legalizing sports betting in the US capital, making it the first state without casinos to permit sportsbooks.
The bill, which received 11-2 votes in favor, still requires the signature of Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser to be integrated into city law, but she is not expected to veto its progress.
The Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of DC will legalize both retail and mobile betting on professional sports within the city limits via mobile apps, four listed city stadiums, and private enterprises such as restaurants.
Council member Jack Evans said: “We’re venturing into new territory with sports gaming. I’m very excited that the District will be out of the box if this passes today.”
As Washington currently has no casinos, Greece-based Intralot – its current lottery operator – will have oversight for sports betting, and will be permitted to sell licences to sportsbooks. City arenas and stadiums will be able to purchase five-year licences for $250,000, while private enterprises and retailers can pay $5,000 for a two-year licence.
City officials have stated that operators will be subject to 10 per cent of tax on their revenues, with the aim of fostering market competition, and remaining at the lower end of the tax scale among states that have legalized sports betting. By taking the legal route to sports betting, the state estimates it will generate $92m in tax revenues.
While the vote to introduce legal sports betting in DC has been largely welcomed, Sara Slane, Vice President of the American Gaming Association, has expressed reservations about handing what might be construed as a virtual monopoly to the state lottery across the mobile market.
In a statement to the media, she noted: “Predictably, this will result in less investment and innovation, to the detriment of consumers and the ability of a nascent legal marketplace to compete with the accessibility and convenience offered by many established illegal wagering operations.”