Washington D.C.’s council has again voted not to offer competitive bidding on sports betting in the district. So, Intralot, the current lottery provider, will run the activity once sports betting has been legalized and rolled out.
This week, the council held a brief five-minute discussion, which culminated in the decision to approve an emergency measure that will allow Intralot to run sports gambling in Washington, D.C. This was the second vote on the bill; the first reading, two weeks ago, ended up with a 7-6 vote. The bill just passed committee prior to that on a 3-2 vote. The rush, according to officials, is needed in order to get sports betting up and running in the district before the NFL season starts this year.
District CFO Jeff DeWitt testified in January, stating that without this emergency procurement bill, sports betting wouldn’t happen in the District for at least two more years.
Not all members of the council are happy about the fact that no other companies got to bid on the contract. Several months ago, they voted to use just one vendor for all sports betting in the District. The vote today cemented the issue; competitors Scientific Games and IGT will not be given the opportunity.
A Washington Post editorial on Monday criticized the council for how it was handling the bidding:
“Horses, whether on racetracks or in stalls, can stir up quite a smell. The push to evade the procurement process carries a whiff of something similar. Proponents of sole-source contracting are trying to steamroll the bill through the council using the argument that time is of the essence …”
In January, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a law stating that a Congressional review to look into D.C. laws and any possible financial ramifications within 60 days is necessary. As long as no one on the Hill fights back, district staff will be able to negotiate a contract with Intralot for both lottery services and sports betting services.
The whole process of legalizing sports betting has been quick in Washington, D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans proposed the bill in September, and the first hearing was in October. In late November, an integrity fee was added to the bill, but the council quickly voted to remove it.
Sports betting in D.C. will be heavily reliant on mobile features since there are no physical casinos in the district. Stadium and arena operators will also be able to offer sports betting and will enjoy exclusivity zones that will prevent competition within a two-block radius of each location. The Washington Wizards have fully embraced sports betting and plan on making it an integral part of their broadcasts.
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