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Soon, you'll be able to bet on sports in DC. But where will all the money go?

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 2/20/2019 Delia Goncalves

The DC Council is fast-tracking a bill that will let you place sports bets in Washington D.C. The plan skips over bidding on the contract, and resident input.

The bill moved quickly through the council because D.C. wanted to beat Maryland and Virginia, who could be eyeing the industry since the Supreme Court legalized it. The District’s chief financial officer also said waiting for the normal bidding process would take too long – around three years, and costing $61 million.

Washington D.C. is considering adding sports betting because it is slated to bring in about $92 million over four years. That money would fund violence prevention programs, affordable child care and gambling addiction treatment.

But not everyone is on board with the plan.

“This is not an industry we should rush to legalize,” Councilmember at Large David Grosso said at a recent meeting. He was one of four “no” votes from the council. “A rush to tax the poor, a rush to skirt procurement rules, and rush to retain a company that was recently downgraded by Moody’s to a 'B3' status, which is a speculative grade and considered a high credit risk.”

City leaders handed the contract to Intralot, a Greek company already running the DC Lottery. That company will handle the online platform. Grosso said you only have to follow the money trail to see why: since 2014, he says Intralot’s affiliate DC09 contributed $41,000 to political campaigns…and - according to the city paper - $10,000 to Mayor Muriel Bowser.

This type of pay-to-play will soon be outlawed under the campaign finance reform act recently passed by DC Council, though things likely would have been different had that law been passed much sooner.

The move with the sports betting bill means residents and visitors in D.C. can bet on sports at restaurants, sporting venues and on their cell phones as soon as the fall.


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