At a particularly tense additional meeting Tuesday of the Committee of the Whole, the D.C. Council voted 7-5 to approve a $215 million, no-bid contract for Intralot to be the sole provider for the District’s legal sports betting app.
The council first voted on council member Vincent Gray’s declaration to dedicate the revenue under the legal sports betting bill both toward the Birth to Three for all D.C. and toward implementing the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act.
That failed to get the nine votes needed to pass, as council members Charles Allen, Mary Cheh, David Grosso, Brianne Nadeau and Elissa Silverman all voted no.
Gray had previously said that without this legislation to ensure revenues would be dedicated to early childhood care and violence prevention, he would not vote to approve Intralot as the sole provider. Those were the original designations for the city’s revenue from legal sports betting when the bill was drawn up, but were changed by Mayor Muriel Bowser in the final version of the bill.
In the end, Gray voted yes, which was enough to push the vote over the top.
Chairman Phil Mendelson strongly urged the council to approve Intralot, which already operates the D.C. Lottery and was awarded the initial contract, despite several issues that have arisen since the passage of the sports betting bill.
The Greek company’s lobbyist was implicated in council member Jack Evans’ current scandal, and as Grosso pointed out at the hearing, it has seen its credit rating downgraded three times since last September.
Allen said the single-source contract and the need to rush the bill to beat Maryland and Virginia to legal sports betting had been sold by Evans as “one tall tale.”
Both neighboring states have delayed any such legislation until at least the 2020 session.
Cheh said it had been presented as the rare instance where a sole provider was the best bet, but that “the foundation upon which that occurred has eroded.”
In the end, though, the council had just enough votes to pass the bill in the last meeting before summer recess.
Tuesday’s decision does not impact sports betting at arenas around the city, which operate separately from the Intralot contract.
Sports betting was originally expected to come online sometime later this year, though delays have pushed that date possibly as far as early 2020.