Councilmembers in Washington DC are are increasingly questioning the decision to award Intralot a contract to power sports betting in the US capital, which could potentially delay the roll-out of land-based and mobile wagering.
At a Committee of the Whole hearing earlier this week, councilmembers again lined up to criticise the move to select Intralot, the DC Lottery’s solutions provider for draw-based games, the contract.
Councilmember Robert White, who voted against the sole sourcing measure in February this year, argued that lawmakers had failed to justify awarding the contract without an open tender.
He said the reasoning, that the neighbouring states of Maryland and Virginia would launch sports betting and sports betting dollars would flow out of the city, was not strong enough.
Maryland’s legislative session ended April 8, with a sports betting bill failing to progress beyond a House Committee.
In Virginia, a bill to legalize land-based casinos was signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam, which provides a route to market for online gaming and sports betting. However specific regulations will not be developed until June 30, 2020 at the earliest, and must be approved by the legislature before they can be enacted.
White said by awarding the contract to Intralot, Washington DC businesses would lose out on the opportunity to benefit from legal wagering.
However DC Lottery executive director Beth Bresnahan warned that this could lead to significant delays to the launch of sports betting. A request for proposals would have to be issued, followed by a period in which unsuccessful bidders could protest the council’s decision. If a vendor other than Intralot was selected, she said, this would require a conversion process that could take up to three years.
By the time the process would be completed, she said, Washington DC’s neighbouring states could already have rolled out legal wagering.
Councilmembers are to debate the matter further at a Committee of the Whole meeting on July 9.
Washington DC’s sports betting regulations passed into law on May 9 this year, with the DC Lottery’s offering the only mobile betting platform allowed across most of the city. There will be a number of delegated facilities, such as the city’s major sports arenas, that will be be permitted to to offer their own mobile wagering services within a two-block exclusivity zone, paying a 10% gross revenue tax.
Intralot is expected to receive up to $215m should it be awarded the contract.