The Washington, DC Council has awarded Intralot a five-year contract to power the city lottery’s sports betting offering, despite mounting concerns over the manner in which the contract was handed to the Greek lottery and gaming solutions provider.
The contract, for which Intralot could earn up to $215m over the five-year term, was backed by seven councilmembers, with five voting against. The Council used an emergency measure to bypass a public procurement process, to ensure it did not lose sports betting revenue to the neighbouring states of Maryland and Virginia.
However the process has long been dogged by controversy, with councilmembers first pointing out that the argument that Washington, DC could lose sports betting revenue to other states did not hold up to scrutiny. Maryland failed to pass wagering legislation during its regular session, while Virginia will not have a regulatory framework in place until June 30, 2020 at the earliest.
Allegations that the contract benefitted subcontractors with links to councilmembers have also been made, amid a wider investigation into the conduct Councilmember Jack Evans.
Throughout the process the DC Lottery has maintained that by opening a full tender process, rather than granting the current lottery solutions provider Intralot the contract, it could take up to three years before the first bets were placed.
While the Council’s decision will see the Intralot-powered DC mobile betting offering the only platform available across most of the city, sports stadia will also be permitted to launch mobile wagering. They will be able to launch their own mobile wagering services within a two-block exclusivity zone, paying a 10% gross revenue tax, under a Class A license.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s Capital One Arena, the Audi Field soccer stadium, baseball arena Nationals Park and St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena will all be eligible for Class A licenses.
Class B sports betting licenses, which do not allow mobile exclusivity, can be obtained by other premises at a cost of $50,000. More limited two-year retail licenses cost $5,000 apiece. Between 40 and 60 other premises that currently offer lottery products – between 10% and 15% of the current total – are expected to apply for licences according to D.C. City Council estimates.