Monday, 22 October 2018

Washington D.C. Moves Closer to Legalising Sports Betting in State

Washington D.C. has moved one step closer to legalising sports betting.

Last week, the D.C. Council Committee on Finance and Revenue held a public hearing to discuss a bill that would legalise the activity.

The bill, titled the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018, was introduced on September 18 by six Council members looking to expand gambling in the region.

Councilman Jack Evans, one of the bill’s sponsors, urged the state to legalise the activity before fellow states. He said: “If we can get up and running before Maryland and Virginia and some of the other jurisdictions, we can capture the market.”

Evans explained how casinos like MGM National Harbor in Maryland have been stealing potential customers and revenue. While Maryland hasn’t yet made sports betting legal, the state is looking to introduce legislation in 2019.

Council member Vincent Gray supported the plans, stating that revenue taken from taxes on licensed operators could help boost the arts and education in the state.

“This is an opportunity now to put the money from an endeavour that I think lots of people will participate in, into something that nobody can argue with.”

Responsible Gambling

While no one from D.C.’s Finance and Revenue Committee opposed the move, Keith Whyte, a member of the National Council on Problem Gambling, urged D.C. not to rush legislation to ensure that responsible gambling plans are put in place.

He explained: “We continue to recommend that D.C. establish at least a rudimentary problem gambling safety net prior to the onset of sports betting”.

Whyte added that the Department of Health “provides no services for gambling addiction to any DC residents.”

The news comes after the Supreme Court decided to overturn the ban on sports betting earlier this year. The landmark move prompted several US states such as New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia to legalise sports betting.

As this happened, several casino companies launched their own sports betting mobile apps and sportsbooks at properties across the United States.