By Harry Allison
An Office of Lottery and Gaming spokesman said last week “the Lottery anticipated a mid-March launch of its wagering app and website.”
OLG submitted proposed rules governing the mobile app and site at the end of January, which are currently under a 30-day public comment period. Assuming no further delays, the Lottery-run mobile app will be the first platform for legal sports betting in D.C.
Additionally, the lottery will be drafting proposed rules governing sports wagering at D.C. Lottery retailers in the spring, anticipating a fall 2020 rollout, once infrastructural upgrades have been made to support sports wagers.
The roughly two-block radius exclusion zones that each of the city’s four Class A arenas enjoy was a provision pushed for by Monumental Sports and Entertainment chief executive Ted Leonsis and the Lerner family, who own the Washington Nationals. The exclusion zones allow each arena’s proprietary app to work in the area surrounding the arena, in lieu of the city app or any other bar or restaurant that might otherwise want to become a Class B operator.
While there is no set limit on the amount of Class B operators, there are obvious cost challenges, particularly in terms of geolocation requirements, especially for those that choose to go it alone. The Bet D.C. consortium of nearly 30 bars and restaurants has partnered together to share some of that cost burden, but they have not yet submitted their application, as of Thursday. In fact, the William Hill application for the sports book at Capital One Arena (in the old Greene Turtle space) remains the only submitted Class A or B application at this point. But, despite the various city delays, Leonsis and Co. don’t appear to be in any hurry to try to be first to market.
“We want to get it right, rather than fast,” said William Hill US chief executive Joe Asher in a separate interview following the event. “It’s going to be there for a long time, so we’re much more focused on getting it right and having something truly special than any artificial date.”
Asher said the goal is for the Capital One Arena sports book and restaurant to be open for business sometime in 2020. And while he mentioned the obvious market around the beginning of football season in September, he wouldn’t commit to any target dates.
“It’s going to be in the nation’s capital, in between the White House and the Capitol, on top of one of the busiest Metro stations in the system, one of the busiest subway stations in the country,” said Asher. “There’s gonna be a lot of people coming and we want it to be something that people can get really excited about.”