Office of Lottery and Gaming holds monopoly

D.C. Council votes on 2025 budget with amendment to open sports betting market

Reading time 1:41 min

The Council of the District of Columbia has approved the FY2025 budget, which includes the Sports Wagering Amendment Act of 2024, marking a significant step toward opening the city's sports betting market.

The budget was unanimously approved, with a second vote expected as early as next week.

The decision to open the market was contentious. An amendment to remove the new sports betting plan was defeated 4-9 after a heated debate. Concerns were raised about the rapid pace of the change and the potential impact on small businesses currently benefiting from wagering kiosks.

Currently, the Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG) holds a monopoly on online wagering. As of April, FanDuel is the sole operator offering digital betting throughout the District, while BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook have retail locations with limited digital betting within an exclusion zone.

If the budget passes, it will take effect on July 15. BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook would then be able to offer their platforms citywide, and new operators could apply for DC sports betting licenses. The proposal also allows for the creation of Type C licenses.

Council member Kenyan McDuffie, who authored the change, stated his economic development committee has had 11 hearings on wagering and faced resistance from the OLG. Council member Charles Allen emphasized that the process has not been "fast-tracked", citing previous considerations in 2019 and 2022.

The council initially legalized sports betting in 2019, granting OLG a digital monopoly. OLG partnered with lottery vendor Intralot to offer digital wagering through GamBetDC, which launched in May 2020 but fell short of revenue projections.

Earlier this year, OLG allowed Intralot to subcontract sports betting to FanDuel. In its first full month of digital wagering in DC, FanDuel set records for handle and revenue, generating $486,071 in tax revenue for the city in May.

Supporters of the new plan claim kiosk concerns are unfounded, as the proposal would not eliminate them from businesses. Currently, kiosks branded as GamBetDC are being rebranded by FanDuel. McDuffie assured that the opportunity for kiosks would remain unchanged.

Concerns about the impact on small businesses persist. However, more operators could mean more opportunities for them, especially since operators must partner with women- and minority-owned businesses by law. Potential new entrants DraftKings and Fanatics Sportsbook have expressed interest in establishing physical sportsbooks in DC.

Council chair Phil Mendelson agreed to include the new wagering plan in the budget, citing the city's need for revenue. Some council members preferred a standalone bill, but incorporating it into the budget facilitates its passage.

The DC Council’s committee of the whole is scheduled to meet on June 18.

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