D.C. Council to Consider Bill Bringing Sports Betting to Nation’s Capital

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A hearing on Oct. 17 would be the first step to bring sports betting to Washington D.C., the town where the law prohibiting betting was overturned in May by the U.S. Supreme Court.

With sports betting finding its footing in Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia, Washington D.C. Councilman Jack Evans introduced legislation that would bring gambling to the nation’s capital. He believes the district should move forward quickly so it doesn’t lose expected revenue that could benefit the city and its citizens.

The district’s next-door neighbors, Maryland and Virginia are warming to the idea of legalized betting. Maryland also draws some gambling dollars through casinos.

"The city should take advantage of our ability to act before the Maryland or Virginia legislatures to create a thriving sports betting market, which will attract consumers to the District and generate revenue for District residents,” Evans said in a news release.

It’s expected that as many as 32 states could offer legal sportsbooks in the next five years.

“There is $150 billion of underground gambling on sports in America,” Evans said. “How do you bring that $150 billion above ground so that they will be with the District of Columbia instead of betting with my bookie?”

Evans’ proposed Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act legislation would put a monthly 10 percent tax of its gross on sport betting operations. Five-year licenses to operate a legal sportsbook would be $50,000, according to the bill.

Money generated would fund the Birth-to-Three for All CD Act, an early childhood care program, according to Evans. The remainder would go to the district’s Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Once those programs are fully-financed, any other money would move to D.C.’s general fund for discretionary expenses.

The bill also stipulates that athletes, coaches and referees cannot wager on any game. Washington, D.C. is home to multiple professional sports franchises: the Redskins, Nationals, Capitals, Wizards, Mystics (WNBA) and D.C United (MLS).

The proposal does not include an integrity fee for sports leagues.

A hearing on the Evans proposal will take place on Oct. 17. The bill must pass muster by the district’s finance committee and from the full council before going to the mayor’s office for a signature. From there, the signed bill heads to Congress for a 30-day review where the House and Senate can reject the resolution. If Congress doesn’t act in 30 days, the bill becomes law.

“We can be first and get a lot of money or 51st and not get any,” Evans said at a September event before announcing the proposal, according to The Washington Post.

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