• Despite controversy, the DC Council has approved Intralot to be its sole mobile betting provider.
  • Intralot will operate the DC Lottery’s mobile betting app.
  • Sports wagering could launch before the end of 2019.

WASHINGTON – After months of uncertainty aznd political infighting, it seems that sports betting will, in fact, be coming to Washington D.C. this year.

On Tuesday, the DC Council finally approved the city’s $215 million “no-bid” contract with Intralot to be the sole provider for the area’s mobile sports betting product. The agreement was vetted by a vote of 7-5, hinging on Councilmember Vincent Gray changing his vote at the eleventh hour.

Gray’s complaint with the contract wasn’t based on any alleged procedural irregularities. Instead, he wanted to earmark proceeds for early childhood initiatives and community violence prevention.

Those motions were denied, with sports betting revenue going to the city’s general fund and gambling addiction program.

Despite this, Gray ultimately voted in favor of the Intralot contract, ensuring that the DC sports betting rollout can commence without further delay. Tuesday’s meeting was the last chance to do so before the summer recess.

Going forward, Intralot will only be in charge of operating the DC Lottery’s mobile sports betting app. The DC Lottery itself is also powered by Intralot, with whom the city has had a years-long relationship.

However, per DC law, other sportsbook operators can do business in the city.

Land-based sportsbooks are allowed at major DC sporting venues, including Capital One Arena, Audi Field, Nationals Park, and St. Elizabeth’s East Entertainment and Sports Arena.

Licenses for physical books at the above venues cost $500,000 each and are renewable every five years. Sports wagering revenue at these facilities will be taxed at 10 percent.

Currently, there is no concrete timeframe for when DC residents can expect the first on-site legal sports betting lounges to open. There is also no indication of when exactly the DC Lottery’s sports betting app will launch.

Logically, a soft target for both would be the start of the 2019-2020 NFL season in September. But even as NFL betting is the most popular and lucrative market for US sportsbooks, it could prove difficult for DC books to set up shop within just two months’ time.

Due to the DC Council’s delay in authorizing the Intralot contract, some analysts suggest that mobile sports betting could be pushed back to Q1 2020. However, others believe that most of the industry will be up and running sometime during the first half of the upcoming NFL season.

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