This week, it was announced that the District of Columbia’s lottery regulator would start to accept applications for sports betting licenses on December 3rd. This is the next step in bringing regulated sports betting to the region and comes with great fanfare as the area is home to many professional and college sports teams.
In making the announcement, The DC Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Executive Director Beth Bresnahan in the statement. “Our team has been working to establish a framework for regulating sports wagering that is fair and fosters public confidence and trust in the process while generating new revenue for the District,” She continued “We look forward to receiving applications and to the sports wagering industry soon launching in the District of Columbia.”
Not an easy road
This announcement seemed long overdue to many, but there have been many legal wranglings that have delayed the launch of regulated sports betting since the District passed legislation earlier in 2019. A primary concern came from the awarding of a monopolistic contract to Intralot for sports betting in the region. As can be expected in an area full of politicians, a lot of due diligence was performed on the deal before finally allowing it to move forward.
Who can apply for licenses?
As with many other states, the regulations laid out in D.C. have their own spin on sports betting licensing. There are two classes of licenses in the District.
Class A licenses are reserved for the four sports arenas in the area – Capital One Arena, Audi Field, Nationals Park, and Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena. These facilities will be able to offer sports betting both inside and within two blocks of their physical locations.
Class B licenses are open to all potential sportsbook operators in the area. What makes this licensing different than in other states is that any business can apply for a sports betting license. The only thing preventing a business from getting a license at this stage seems to be if the company was set up for the express purpose of gambling. Class B license holders will be allowed to offer mobile sports betting only within the confines of its physical locations.
There is currently no limit set for the number of Class B licenses, and with an up-front fee of $100,000, no doubt the OLG will accept as many as it can.
Wait…what about the Lottery itself?
The only other organization allowed to offer regulated sports betting in D.C. is the Lottery itself. Now, given that OLG also controls the additional licenses, it should come as no surprise that it has given itself the most leeway when it comes to how players can access their betting lines. Anyone who downloads the sports betting app from the lottery (Intralot) will be able to register an account and play from anywhere in the District. This gives the Lottery a distinct advantage over any of the competitors in the region.
The usual players are already moving
Even before the announcement of the timeline for license applications, deals were already being struck for sports betting in the state. The most notable of these was the deal that William Hill entered with Capital One Arena. Building owner (and sports franchise owner) Ted Leonsis has been a vocal proponent of regulating sports betting, and there are now plans to build a William Hill branded sportsbook in the arena that houses both the Washington Capitals NHL team and the Washington Wizards NBA franchise.
Other deals are being rumored, including discussions involving Fanduel, Draft Kings, and Caesars to name a few. No doubt, there will be many partnerships announced in the coming weeks in anticipation of launching sports betting in D.C. early in 2020.