By Maureen Kelly
The D.C. Lottery looks like it has finally gotten its act together and a sportsbook will be operational by the end of March.
Unless another in a series of year-long delays pops up.
What was supposed to be a speedy process has turned into the most delayed sportsbook launches in the country. Now D.C. Lottery officials are aiming for the start of the MLB season to launch their sportsbooks.
After legalization in February 2019, the Lottery has adopted sports betting rules and regulations, but no licenses have been distributed.
Originally, the company Intralot was given a no-bid contract with D.C. to operate sports betting. This was done in an effort to get sportsbooks running in the district as quickly as possible.
However, a number of rules about where sportsbooks can operate has left many confused. On top of that, complaints and lawsuits have delayed sportsbook launches. Thanks to the no-bid process with Intralot, it has become easy to argue that D.C. sports betting has been delayed because of it.
“Did D.C. get the best bargain? The fact that they haven’t launched yet in 2020, that raises some questions. In terms of revenue on the table, that’s another issue. Because of the delay, they lost revenue over the Super Bowl and they’ll lose revenue over March Madness. Delays happen. In D.C., there was a particular emphasis on speed, and it’s disappointing but at this point consumers want to see something go live,” said Jeff Ifrah, an attorney.
The point of doing a no-bid process is to launch sportsbooks before the surrounding states do. However, legal sports betting has further spread around the country. D.C. is currently surrounded by states that have launched sports betting or are in the process of doing so.
That being said, sportsbooks are now expected to launch by the time the Washington Nationals begin their season. However, with how many delays D.C. has faced, it is uncertain if sportsbooks will launch in time. The only one slated to launch at the end of this month is the District’s mobile application.