This past January, it was revealed that Washington, D.C. was only steps away from legalizing sports gambling. At almost the final buzzer of the approval process, though, a technical foul was called, causing the game to be delayed a little further. The technical has been addressed, the process completed, and D.C. is now ready to tackle sports gambling. With a little last-minute change-ups in its playbook, bets could be placed before the start of the next NFL season.
Lawmakers had to clear the air over concerns that it had inappropriately awarded oversight of the sports gambling industry to Intralot, the district’s lottery operator. They had not sought a bidding process nor called for public input, which drew heavy criticism from the bleachers and the sidelines, as well as some of the players on the field. However, the D.C. Council passed legislation this past Tuesday that puts the sports betting ball in Intralot’s court permanently as the district’s exclusive provider of mobile gambling.
At-Large Council Member David Grosso had opposed the legislation previously, asserting that, by awarding the contract, there could definitely be repercussions in the future. The City Council had initially pushed forward the sports gambling bill as an “emergency,” which meant that it didn’t have to put any of the measures to a vote and could award Intralot the rights unilaterally. Grosso stated that there was no emergency and that the award was simply a “giveaway.”
Virginia and Maryland, two states that border D.C., are working on their own sports gambling moves. D.C. had been concerned that any delays in approving legislation would lead to a considerable loss of income for the district, and putting the contract through a bidding process could have resulted in delays of game of more than two years.
D.C. is now in the red zone, but hasn’t quite scored a touchdown. The city’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, still has to give her approval—which she has already stated won’t be an issue—and Congress has to carry the ball into the end zone. It isn’t common for Congress to go against the wishes of the D.C. City Council, or the district’s mayor, so the smart money is on D.C. taking the lead and legalizing sports gambling before its neighbors.