Capitol Hill neighborhood escalates fight against sportsbook

In D.C., a Capitol Hill neighborhood is lawyering up in its battle over a liquor license application with a proposed sportsbook.

ANC 6B last week voted to spend up to $14,000 to hire a lawyer against a liquor license application submitted by Handle 19, a proposed sportsbook seeking to open on Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C.’s Capitol Hill. The news was first reported by Capitol Hill Corner.

A decision on the liquor license is expected to come down next year, after efforts between the owner of Handle 19 and neighborhood residents to reach an understanding failed.

Residents fighting the liquor license application have said it’s not really about the alcohol at all. In fact, the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue in Southeast D.C. is lined with other restaurants that serve alcohol, as well as a liquor store. The space Handle 19 is looking to move into used to house a bar.

However, the District’s legalization of sports betting didn’t include provisions that would allow residents to challenge gambling licenses. Residents said they feel the liquor license application is the only way they can express their opposition to Handle 19.

So far, only one gaming license has been issued at all — to William Hill sports betting, which operates out of Capitol One Arena. The D.C. Lottery’s Gambet app also allows adults to wager on sporting events over their phones.

Handle 19 is working to become the first independent sportsbook to open in the city. Its gaming license application remains under review.

The owner of Handle 19, Shane August, has repeatedly said he’ll open the sportsbook with or without a liquor license.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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