New Bill Envisions Legalized Sports Betting in DC

Several states have already legalized sports betting after the historic United States Supreme Court decision in May, which deemed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. The next region to allow sports wagers may easily become Washington D.C. as a new bill was introduced Tuesday.

The legislation was proposed by D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) who said in a statement that if passed into a law, the bill would bring more revenue to the District. According to him, the District should act quickly if it wants to tap into this new and lucrative market. In order for the region to secure boost to city coffers, however, D.C. lawmakers should take action as soon as possible.

Neighboring Maryland already has casino gambling, while Virginia is considering sports betting. In his statement, Evans points out that the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia is currently targeting D.C. gamblers. In fact, this is the closest gambling facility available to D.C. residents as it is located only 75-minute drive from Washington Downtown. According to the Council member, the proposed bill would bring in revenue for the District rather than other jurisdictions making money off of D.C. gamblers.

The bill was introduced by Evans along with Council members Cheh, Gray, Bonds, and Todd. It is now being referred to the Committee on Finance and Revenue and needs to go through several procedures before being passed as law. Evans believes that the majority of his colleagues in the Council are in support of the amendment of the current gambling legislation. He says the bill has been drafted with the offices of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D).

The Washington Post published the Bill and contacted both the Mayor and the Council Chairman. While Mendelson told the paper that was against legalized gambling, he was a strong supporter of the amendment because it reflected the Supreme Court’s decision. He thinks that with the lifting of the federal ban on sports betting, an increased number of states would join New Jersey and would allow wagers on sports events.

Sports Betting Bill Highlights

D.C. Council member Jack Evans proposal would allow residents of the District of Columbia to bet both in land-based facilities and online on websites and on mobile devices. The terms “sports wagering” includes parlays and single-game bets, as well as live bets. Overall, all types of bets are being considered, including money lines, teaser bets, over-under, pools, exchange wagering, straight bets, and proposition bets.

The bill also consists of provisions regarding the sports wagering operators. For instance, the initial license term would be 5 years and applicants will need to pay a license fee of $50,000, with another fee of $50,000 payable at the time of license renewal. The proposed tax is 10 percent of the monthly gross revenue of the operator. However, there is no mechanism for collecting the taxes. Evans does not include an initial projection for the size of the market in D.C. and there are no estimates of the potential tax revenue received by the District.

Evans’ proposal was supported by the Mayor’s office. In a statement, Bowser’s chief of staff John Falcicchio said that legalized sports betting could help the District fund critical programs and create jobs for the residents. Half of the revenue would subsidize early-childhood care programs and some of the money would go to the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

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