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D.C. Council OKs Controversial No-Bid Mobile Sports Betting Contract

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The Washington, D.C. Council on Tuesday awarded the no-bid contract to manage online and mobile sports betting to Intralot, the same company that oversees the district’s lottery.

Despite several members of the council being uneasy with the lucrative $215 million contract procured without bids and an ethics probe of Councilmember Jack Evans, the five-year contract was approved by a 7 to 5 vote.

The vote gives the Greek company a monopoly on mobile sports bets in the district.

Council members also are concerned about the contract benefiting some subcontractors with ties to elected officials, such as Mayor Muriel Bowser, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and a law firm that lobbied the council to approve the sports betting law, according to The Washington Post.

“This stinks,” panel member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) said. “Given all the ethics clouds over this building and this contract, we need to hit pause. We need to restore the public’s trust, but with the approval of this contract, we will continue to erode it.”

Those issues weren’t enough to delay the vote which they were told would be costly.

“If we turn this down, there will be another two years, some have said three years, before we have a contract in place,” Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said, according to the Post. “We just know there will be a protest, there will be a lot of controversy, a lot of dispute, and a lot of delay. And there is a significant cost to a delay of a couple of years.”

Sports betting is expected to raise about $92 million for the nation’s capital over the next four years, most going into the “general” fund, with a portion of revenues allocated to early-childhood area, violence prevention and gambling addiction treatment.

The legislation allows for betting to occur in specific area sports arenas, at licensed retail businesses, such as restaurants and convenience stores.

Those in D.C. should expect to be able to place bets in the fall with mobile up and running early next year.

During the same council meeting, the panel removed Council member Evans as chairman of the influential Finance and Revenue Committee and hired a law firm to investigate the official’s possible conflicts of interest.

O’Melveny & Myers will look into Evans’s business deals and council work while specifically scrutinizing consulting services his private firm provided to companies appearing before the D.C. panel.

Fellow Councilmember David Grosso proposed an amendment to remove Evans from all his committee assignments.

“I’m not sure that we can trust Mr. Evans to serve on any committee, when there has been no investigation to capture the full depth and breadth of his potential conflicts,” Grosso said.

The amendment failed.

View the Sportsbook Review Legislative Tracker for a list of places to bet on sports in each state as well as a status on legal news.