DC Council votes to legalize sports betting in the District

A closeup of the red and white flag of the District of Columbia. This flag was blowing in a stiff breeze. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/WilliamSherman)

WASHINGTON — The D.C. Council has passed a bill to legalize sports betting in the District.

Only two councilmembers, Brianne Nadeau and David Grosso, voted against the bill that would allow private businesses to apply for licenses to operate sports betting facilities in the District. The D.C. Lottery will oversee a single-operator system of online betting within city limits.

Betting likely won’t start until the summer in D.C. stadiums, arenas and the bars and restaurants that seek licenses. The bill must still be signed or passed on by the mayor, at which point it will be sent to Congress for a 30-day review period. It is expected to take roughly six months after that point for the lottery agency to put systems in place to begin operating.

Adopted into the bill, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie’s amendment to include small businesses into the group allowed to seek a license. This would potentially add to the brick-and-mortar sports book locations, originally designated as just a handful of sports venues around the city, including Capital One Arena and Nationals Park.

The bill will levy a 10 percent tax on operators, and is expected to generate $92 million over the next four years, according to a fiscal impact statement issued by the city’s chief financial officer.

Eight states already have legal sports betting, including New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia.

Both Maryland and Virginia are considering similar bills.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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