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US – Washington D.C. to allow sports betting at stadiums and lottery outlets

By - 19 December 2018

Legislators in Washington have said yes in a vote to introduce sports betting, meaning the US capital will be the first sports betting market to open independently from a casino industry.

The future industry will be overseen by the D.C. Lottery which is operated by Intralot. Sports betting was approved by a 11-2 vote with betting to be allowed at the city’s stadiums and arenas, as well as as at some restaurants and liquor stores. Mobile sports betting will also be allowed within the city limits although this will be limited to the lottery’s online platform.

Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser will now need to sign the bill into law although this should prove a formality as she was involved in its drafting, meaning the first bet could be made within a matter of months.

The plan is for the lottery to sell licenses to sports book operators who could set up at arenas and stadiums for $250,000 over five years. The bill creates two-block zones around sporting stadiums to prevent rival bricks and mortar sportsbooks opening. The four stadiums that will be able to offer betting are the FedEx Field, Nationals Park, Capital One Arena and Audi Field. RFK Stadium, where D.C. United played until last year, won’t be allowed a sportsbook as it is located on federal land where gambling will not be allowed. Up to 60 other premises that currently offer lottery products are expected to apply for licences. These retailers will be able to buy a two-year license for $5,000. There is no cap on the number of licenses.

The American Gaming Association believes that allowing the lottery to control the betting sector will stifle competition.

Sara Slane, the AGA’s Vice President, said: “While the vote is progress, we remain deeply concerned about giving the lottery a virtual monopoly in the mobile market. 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.”

Tax at bricks and mortar sportsbooks will be set at 10 per cent of revenue whilst online betting tax will be set at 20 per cent. Analyst estimates pitch the market to be worth $92m over the first four years.

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