The 1 Key Problem With Washington D.C. Intention To Legalize Sports Betting
It looks like Washington D.C. will be the next U.S. state or territory to legalize and regulate sports betting. On December 18, the Washington D.C. city council approved the allowance of sports betting and now it must receive clearance from the mayor and Congress.
Washington D.C. will join Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and West Virginia as places in the U.S. where you can go to place a legal bet on the outcome of an athletic competition. Interestingly, many people, including stakeholders in and around Washington D.C. who will likely benefit from the introduction of legalized sports betting, are not so enthused about the proposal as it currently stands.
The main problem with Washington D.C.’s plan is that it will provide the D.C. Lottery a virtual monopoly over mobile sports betting, which is where most of the action is in states that have made mobile sports wagering an option.
“We remain deeply concerned about giving the lottery a virtual monopoly in the mobile market,” said Sara Slane, American Gaming Association (AGA) Senior Vice President of Public Affairs. “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.”
Slane and the AGA have asked policymakers to reevaluate the proposed framework and allow competitors to the D.C. Lottery in the future. That said, the AGA does not want to stand in the way of at least getting legalize sports betting on the books in Washington D.C. in the meantime.
That is also the sentiment of Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who calls the monopoly a “disservice to fans.”
“We are pleased that the City Council is moving quickly to legalize sports gaming in DC, but we are disappointed that this bill creates a monopoly run by the DC Lottery rather than a competitive marketplace for mobile betting,” said Leonsis. “This is a disservice to fans, who don’t get the benefit of competition in the marketplace, and a disservice to the city, which will lose out on the potential investment and job growth. We strongly encourage the Council to reconsider creating a robust, competitive marketplace for mobile betting in DC.”
Leonsis previously dreamt of a scenario whereby fans would bet on games in his arena and on his own app. At least the latter part of that dream will need to be put on hold as the current legislation is likely to become law while giving the D.C. Lottery its monopoly that is being criticized by many.