The D.C. Council today approved “The Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018,” a measure to legalize sports betting in the District. Mayor Muriel Bowser supports the bill, which needs her signature to become law.
According to The Washington Post:
The District has no casinos, but the legislation creates three ways to place a wager: at sports venues such as Capital One Arena and Nationals Park, at private establishments such as restaurants and liquor stores or from anywhere in the city using a mobile application.
The app is expected to be the most popular method to place a bet, but the D.C. Lottery would have the exclusive ability to operate it, closing off a potentially lucrative market to private businesses. Arenas and businesses with sports betting licenses could have apps that can be used only in their facilities.
The bill would tax sports betting operators at 10 percent of their gross revenues, and officials estimate that the industry will add $92 million to city coffers over four years.
The U.S. Supreme Court in May struck down a 35-year-old federal law that banned sports betting in most states. Seven states, including Delaware and West Virginia, have since legalized sports betting.
While the decision effectively opens the door for Maryland to legalize sports betting, it’s unlikely to do so, at least not any time soon.
According to the Maryland Constitution, the General Assembly may only authorize additional forms or expansion of commercial gaming if approved through a referendum by a majority of the voters in a general election. And earlier this year a bill to legalize sports betting via a referendum failed to pass the General Assembly.
That effectively halts the state from legalizing sports wagering in the short term. Even if a law were to pass in 2019, it would still require the approval of voters in the 2020 presidential election.
Learn more about what to expect during the 2019 General Assembly Session by attending the “2019 General Assembly Forecast” at the MACo Winter Conference.
The MACo Winter Conference will be held January 2-4, 2019 at the Hyatt in Cambridge, Maryland. This year’s theme is, “Charting the Course.”
Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: