- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The D.C Council Committee on Finance and Revenue held a public hearing Wednesday about a bill designed to legalize sports betting in Washington.

Since the Supreme Court struck down the law that limited sports gambling to Nevada last May, several more states have implemented full-scale sports betting, including New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia. New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island have also passed bills legalizing the activity, but are still moving toward the implementation phase.

The Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 was introduced Sept. 18 by six Council members.

Council member Jack Evans, one of the bill’s primary sponsors, said Wednesday the Council needs to act fast before Maryland and Virginia follow suit.

“Sports betting is going to happen and I believe we should act before our neighboring jurisdictions,” Mr. Evans said.

DC Lottery would regulate the gambling, according to the bill, and revenues would be funneled primarily toward early childhood education and the arts.

The hearing included testimony from representatives of DraftKings, a pro-online wagering association called iDEA Growth, and Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Washington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics.

Monumental is in favor of implementing betting in Washington, provided it is done “responsibly.” Monumental founder and CEO Ted Leonsis has been a vocal supporter of legalizing sports betting.

DraftKings head of government affairs Griffin Finan said his company was concerned the model Washington is considering would lead to a “monopoly.”

“If Washington D.C. wants to eliminate the thriving offshore sports betting market to ensure that bettors are wagering with regulated operators, and to maximize revenue for the district, the Council should consider allowing for an open, competitive online sports betting market where the Lottery licenses operators and collects a reasonable tax rate,” Finan said in extended remarks provided to reporters.

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