Despite accusations of conflicting interests and questionable dealing, District of Columbia Council members have voted to award a five-year contract to the state’s existing lottery operator, Intralot, to run its newly legalized sports betting operations. 

In defense of what is largely being cited as a controversial decision, the council has argued that to put the contract out to a competitive tender process would have created delays in getting sports betting up and running in the District.

Much of the controversy stems from the alleged relationship between Intralot and council member Jack Evans who had been stripped of his chairmanship of the Council’s Committee on Finance & Revenue before Tuesday’s vote. He was, however, still available to cast his vote in support of the Intralot contract.

While the council’s decision has created a political stink, observers are already talking about what the implications might be for DC’s sports betting fans. Writing for Calvin Ayre, Steven Stradbrooke noted: “Intralot has promised to hold nearly one-third of the wagers it handles in DC, an absurdly high rate that will make the DC Lottery’s wagering product repellent to all but the most clueless bettors. Everyone else will continue to partake of the infinitely better odds available at any number of internationally licensed online sportsbooks that continue to serve the US market.”

Rival operators DraftKings and FanDuel have also joined the debate with an editorial in the Washington Post prior to the vote, urging an open market approach to sports wagering in the District.