Judge John Campbell Sides with the District
Superior Court judge John Campbell denied a request for a preliminary injunction to block a no-bid contract between the District of Columbia and Intralot. That means that the D.C Lottery can resume working with Intralot to implement legal sports betting in the District of Columbia. However, the decision by judge Campbell does not end the lawsuit. The injunction itself was only part of the lawsuit.
Dylan Carragher, the D.C resident who filed the lawsuit and the District will now have to wait until next week to submit a joint briefing schedule ahead of the December 20th initial conference on the lawsuit. Carragher who is the owner of an esports website called eSportsbets.gg, claims that the no-bid contract between the district and Intralot was a violation of the District's procurement rules.
A Recap on How Carragher and the District Got to This Point
In February, the D.C Council passed the Sports Wagering Procurement Practice Reform Exemption Act of 2019, which gave Intralot the contract to operate the District's sports betting platform. Jeffrey DeWitt, the District's chief financial officer, argued that the no-bid contract would allow D.C to quickly launch and tax sports betting ahead of neighbors Maryland and Virginia.
In July, D.C council members approved the contract with Intralot in a 7-5 vote. The contract itself had a lot of critics who questioned its compliance with procurement law that requires companies with large public contracts to share some work with small local companies to strengthen the local economy and create jobs.
As a result, Carragher filed his lawsuit alleging that the contract violates the federal Home Rule Act and the D.C Procurement Practice Reform Act of 2010.
Carragher is Not Alone in His Opposition to the Contract
Donald Temple, who is Carragher's attorney, said that he was disappointed with the decision and feels that an appeal is in order. "It's clearly a disturbing opinion and contradicts case law," he said. "The D.C judge essentially ruled that the District Council implicitly amended its procurement laws, despite the absence of any amendment language anywhere in the record," according to Temple.
Meanwhile top executives at FanDuel and DraftKings have argued that legal sports betting should not be run by a monopoly in the District. They say that the District of Columbia should have an open and competitive market of licensed sports betting operators.
Councilmember Elissa Silverman (Independent-At Large), another opponent of the contract, said on Friday "To me the bigger legal issue is whether Intralot and Veterans Services Corp. (the company posing as a "local business") are exploiting the law," she was quoted as saying.
What Does This Mean for D.C Legal Sports Wagering?
The D.C Lottery had hoped to have things up and running by January 2020. The uncertainty surrounding this case means that timeline is unlikely but this ruling by judge Campbell is a positive sign. The D.C sports betting market has already seen some serious movement despite the temporary restraining order.
Earlier this month, Monumental Sports and Entertainment who own the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals signed a deal with William Hill to open a physical sportsbook in Capital One Arena. The deal is the first of its kind in the United States and is a clear signal that legal sports betting in D.C will happen one way or another.