D.C. keen to beat neighbouring states with sports betting

18 October 2018

Washington D.C. Council members have urged the state to push ahead with plans to legalise sports betting and gain an advantage over neighbouring jurisdictions.

D.C. Council met yesterday (Wednesday) to hear arguments for and against such a move, which has been made possible after the repeal of PASPA earlier this year.

Representatives from DraftKings, FanDuel and MGM were among those present to discuss plans with the Council and its Finance and Revenue Committee.

Council member Jack Evans called for D.C. to move ahead of other states and join the “cluster” of nearby Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia in legalising sports wagering.

“Sports betting is going to happen and I believe that we should act before our neighbouring jurisdictions,” Evans said, according to WTOP.

“You can see the cluster around us. It’s my view that over the course of the next several years, sports betting will be across the country.”

Council member Vincent Gray also backed such plans, saying that revenue taken from taxes on licensed operators could help boost the arts and education in the state.

Gray said: “This is an opportunity now to put the money from an endeavour that I think lots of people will participate in, into something that nobody can argue with.”

Griffin Finan, speaking on behalf of DraftKings, said the company is ready to go live with services. He also suggested around 130,000 D.C. residents currently spend about $319m (£243.3m/€277m) on betting each year through offshore, unlicensed sites.

In addition, Jeff Ifrah was representing iDEA Growth, an association seeking to grow jobs and expand the online interactive gaming business in the US through advocacy and education. Founder Ifrah said mobile betting should be a “critical” part of talks.

He said: “Legalising sports betting will bring much needed revenue to the District, and online and mobile provisions are a critical part of the debate and should be included in legislation.

“Internet and mobile gaming, including poker and casino games, are great opportunities for D.C. to expand the size of the betting pool and receive additional revenue. Mobile also allows for important consumer protections, including real-time tracking and age monitoring tools.”

However, while no members of the Finance and Revenue Committee opposed the move, Keith Whyte of the National Council on Problem Gambling called for D.C. to not rush illegalisation and to ensure relevant responsible gambling plans are in place.

He said: “We continue to recommend that D.C. establish at least a rudimentary problem gambling safety net prior to the onset of sports betting,” adding that the Department of Health “provides no services for gambling addiction to any D.C. residents”.

The hearing took place on the same day as Illinois lawmakers also met to discuss legalising sports wagering. Illinois gambling expert Cory Aronovitz told iGamingBusiness.com that lawmakers should focus on legalising in-venue wagering to ensure punters can bet in the state by the start of the next NFL season.

Image: Max Pixel