The Washington DC Council has unanimously approved the final reading of the budget bill, which incorporates pivotal changes for mobile sports betting in the District. This decision, reached on Tuesday, is now awaiting the signature of Mayor Muriel Bowser. Following her approval, the bill will undergo a 30-day congressional review period, potentially fast-tracking the implementation of these changes.

The newly adopted regulations propose significant modifications to the existing sports betting landscape. Since April, FanDuel has been the exclusive District-wide operator, replacing Intralot’s GambetDC. However, FanDuel has not issued any public comments regarding the Council’s recent decision. However, last week the company clearly stated that it would consider terminating the current agreement if the budget is approved.

A key amendment in the new sports betting legislation, approved earlier this month, allows the seven professional sports teams based in DC to partner with various betting operators. This move could introduce up to seven different mobile sportsbooks across the District, a notable increase from the single option previously available through the DC Lottery.

These sportsbooks could become operational shortly after the budget’s final approval. To qualify, operators must do the following:

  • Present proof of a partnership with one of the seven professional DC sports teams.
  • Be licensed and operational in no fewer than five U.S. jurisdictions.
  • Pay a $2 million application fee for a five-year license.

An Important Amendment

In addition to these changes, an amendment introduced by Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie concerning sports betting kiosks was also approved. This amendment is designed to ensure the continuity of kiosks under the current contract with FanDuel/Intralot. Should this service be disrupted, other licensed DC sports betting operators would be allowed to manage the kiosks for local retailers.

McDuffie described this amendment as a safeguard to support small businesses that depend on the retail sports betting kiosks. The Council passed this amendment with a 10-1 vote, with one member voting present. This provision aims to address concerns from some Council members about the impact of a more competitive online sports betting market on small businesses.

Councilmember Zachary Parker, who voted against the amendment, expressed his disapproval of the new sports betting model being integrated into the budget bill instead of going through a traditional legislative process. “All of this is unnecessary because we could have done this outside of the budget,” Parker stated, according to SportsHandle.

Despite Parker’s reservations about the process, the DC Council is advancing towards a more competitive online sports betting environment. Industry sources cited by Legal Sports Report indicated that Fanatics played a significant role in advocating for the market’s opening.

Brandt Iden, VP of Government Affairs at Fanatics, expressed enthusiasm about the Council’s decision. “Today is a great day for DC residents who want options when selecting their sportsbook,” Iden remarked. “For years, this market has been held together by a thread and some Silly Putty. It was one of the worst performing markets in the country and now it will be the first to go from a single online operator to a competitive market. Thanks to Councilmember McDuffie, DC will become a leader for other sole-sourced closed markets.”

DraftKings also commended McDuffie and Chairman Phil Mendelson via Twitter, stating, “We look forward to the potential opportunity to introduce D.C. sports fans to our mobile sportsbook product.”

As the budget bill progresses through the final stages of approval, Washington DC is on the verge of transforming its sports betting market, offering residents more choices and fostering a competitive environment. This development marks a significant shift from the previously restricted betting landscape, promising an improved experience for sports betting enthusiasts in the District.