D.C. is known for its strict limitations over gambling but potential tax revenue from legalized sports betting may produce some change.
September 18th, Democratic D.C. Council member Jack Evans introduced the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 bill during a meeting with the council which proposed allowing the district to regulate and offer sports betting. The bill details a 10% tax on sportsbook operators monthly gross revenue and a $50,000 licensing fee which allow sportsbooks to operate under a district license for 5 years. Council Member Evans announced a public hearing to be held October 17th, 2018 regarding his proposed D.C. gambling bill 3209.
The proposed bill would allow large sports venues such as the Audi field, Capital One Arena, Nationals Park, and other sports facilities to offer betting options, as well as, allow licensing for D.C. bars to offer sports wagering. Co-creators of the bill look to eventually introduce a mobile sports betting app crafted for their district only. However, details regarding the proposed minimum betting age are unknown at this point, sports fans who are 18+ in DC can currently use 18+ licensed offshore sportsbooks or travel to another state that offers legal sports betting in the meantime.
The neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia do not have legalized sports betting at the time of this writing and the nearest available sportsbook to D.C. is in Charles Town, West Virginia. Charles Town’s sportsbook, the Hollywood Casino, is at minimum a 75-minute drive from D.C., this time frame considers light to no traffic from D.C. to the sportsbook venue. Councilmen Jack Evans has urged the district to act quickly or risk falling behind.
The chance to dominate the market is there as nearby states have yet to legalize or launch their own offers. If D.C. waits too long they may lose out on potentially maximizing the districts tax revenue from sports gambling. Considering this, it would be better for D.C. to act now and lead the market.
The proposed allocation of tax revenue would support D.C.’s early childhood care program and fund the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. If fully funded, leftover revenue would be sent to the city’s general fund. The final details of the bill are still under construction; however, the D.C. city Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson have offered their assistance in the creation of the legislation.
While both individuals are Democrats, Council Chairman Mendelson shared his disapproval of gambling. However, Mendelson is willing to put his personal feelings aside for the betterment of the city and for progress. The Mayor has also given his full support behind the bill and sees it as a must needed revenue source for D.C.’s economic needs.
Commentary from Mayor Bowser’s Chief of Staff stated the bill could provide the district with new jobs and fund critical programs while allowing visitors and commuters to further contribute to the district’s economy. The end goal for all individuals invested in the bill is to maximize the potential revenue D.C. may obtain from sports betting legalization.