First in Foggy Bottom

Washington D.C.: sports betting bar ExPat to open in late spring at Western Market

Western Market in Washington, D.C.
2022-04-04
Reading time 2:07 min

A new sports betting bar and restaurant is set to open in late spring at the Western Market culinary hub in Washington, D.C. ExPat, a two-floored restaurant currently undergoing construction on the lower level and ground floor of Western Market, will feature a sports bar on its top floor and several other amenities on the floor below.

The venue is set to become the first business with sports betting in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, reports The GW Hatchet. However, owner Ben Sislen expressed hopes the mix of activities in the restaurant, adjacent to George Washington University, will make ExPat a popular gathering point for students on campus.

“One of our missions is to be able to break down the walls between our bar and restaurant space and the GW community,” he said, according to the cited news source. “That means reaching out, bringing in GW bands and any talent that exists on campus here that wants to express itself in our space.”

The venue’s owner further said an ExPat-branded app, currently in development, will be the primary mode of sports betting in the restaurant, with wager size limits in an effort to protect guests from losing larger sums of money.

ExPat will be taking the place of Bertucci’s, which closed in 2020. Betting will also be offered through five betting kiosks placed within the restaurant, and Sislen says he met with the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission a number of times since last year to address concerns about the restaurant’s gambling activities.

Following a special meeting in March, the ANC decided to unanimously pass a settlement agreement to limit the amount of cash a person can withdraw each day to $200, with a maximum of $500 in wagers per person.

“It can be fun,” Sislen told GW Hatchet. “We can encourage the $5 to $10 to $20 bets, as opposed to the sportsbooks trying to get people to bet $3,000. Nobody wants to be sitting next to the person who’s losing a mortgage payment on a sporting event.”

The sports betting bar has also received the blessing of George Washington University. Kevin Days, GW’s director of community relations, said at an ANC meeting that the University felt “very comfortable” with the idea of sports gaming near campus.

“GW understands that the students primarily are adults and should be treated as such,” Days said at the meeting, according to local media. “We expect that we will provide the kinds of support that are needed if students run into issues.”

Sports betting in the District was first legalized in 2018. In October last year, Grand Central, a longtime sports bar on 18th Street in Northwest, became the first D.C. restaurant to open a sportsbook after receiving the first Class B sports betting license in the District.

In February, gaming and sports betting tech company Elys Game Technology announced Grand Central Restaurant and Sportsbook was granted approval from the DC Office of Lottery and Gaming to expand its sports betting operations following a streak of highly-successful months for the venue and its sports operations.

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