The city of Washington, DC made history in December of 2018 when the nation’s capital became the first US jurisdiction to legalize sports betting even though there are no casinos within the city limits.

DC city council voted 11-2 in favor of authorizing betting on professional sports at the city’s stadiums and arenas, in private businesses such as bars, restaurants and liquor stores, and within the city limits on a mobile app.

Absent of casinos, the D.C. Lottery was put in charge of overseeing sports betting. It’s an arrangement that leaves the US capital as an outlier within the US gaming industry. 

Intralot, an Athens, Greece-based company that manages lottery and igaming operations in a dozen states and is DC’s current lottery vendor, was placed in charge of monitoring sports betting operations in the city. The lottery sells licenses to sports books situated in arenas and stadiums for $250,000 over five years. Retailers are able to purchase a two-year license for $5,000. There is no cap on the number of licenses that will be issued.

Operators of sportsbooks are taxed at 10 percent of overall revenue. Washington DC officials optimistically predict that legalized sports betting with added $92 million to the city’s coffers over the first four years of existence.

City officials anticipate that legal sports gambling should be up and operational in time for the start of the 2019 NFL season. You must be 18 years of age to legally gamble in DC.

Until legalized sports betting officially is unveiled in Washington DC, residents can relax in the knowledge that offshore online sportsbooks are still available for their wagering purposes. There is no law on the books in the District of Columbia that bans, prohibits or otherwise restricts or regulates people from wagering via offshore online sportsbooks.

Mobile Betting Apps

Mobile betting in Washington DC’s brave new world of legalized sports betting is looking like it will be a late-arriving, complicated process. The DC Lottery has been granted a monopoly on the sports betting operations within the city and their mobile app will be the only one available for sports bettors to place wagers. And it will only be legal to make mobile wagers on sporting events within the city limits.

The DC smartphone app faces a much longer timeline to arrival than actual legalized sports betting. Though Intralot will provide the hardware and software to provide sports betting to DC, the company is not going to be part of designing the mobile app. DC officials still must contract a company to design their mobile betting app and pass city council approval of the choice. 

It will likely require at least six months of development and testing of the app before its implementation, meaning that it’s very doubtful the system will be in place prior to 2020.

Sports betting sites

Since all of Washington DC’s legalized sports betting will take place at kiosks, in restaurants and bars and at venues situated in sports stadiums, online sports betting websites aren’t going to be part of the operation. Maybe in 2020. This is where the mobile app is so vital to the long-term success of this venture.

Land-based casinos in DC

There are no casinos in the District of Columbia. The nearest casinos are located in Maryland.  The are legal online poker rooms in DC where you are permitted to play with and win real money.

Top local sports betting blogs

While there are no sports betting blogs per se currently operational in DC, with the advent of legalized sports betting, the local mainstream media continues to provide extensive coverage of the situation. You’ll find easily-accessible information on when to expect sports betting to be legalized, what types of sports you can wager on and where and how you’ll be able to place these bets.

Professional Teams

After originally indicated that it wouldn’t be prohibited, DC recently made provisions against offering wagering on local college sports teams.

The no-casino set-up figures to be a boon to the area pro sports franchises since all four of DC’s major stadiums – Capital One Arena, Audi Field, Nationals Park and St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena.

Already, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who also owns Capital One Arena, has unveiled plans to convert a dormant restaurant on the property into a sportsbook. People would be able to enter the sportsbook from outside the stadium, watch sports and make bets on games nights without holding a ticket.

The law governing legalized sports betting in Washington DC prohibits any venue within a two-block radius of one of the stadiums from opening up a sports betting kiosk in their facility.

Washington Nationals (MLB) 

The rule in baseball is three strikes and you’re out, so this must be the last chance for big-league baseball to succeed in DC. Two versions of the Washington Senators previously left town – to become the Minnesota Twins in 1961 and the Texas Rangers in 1972. Washington inherited the former Montreal Expos in 2005. The Nats have made the playoffs four times but they’ve never won a postseason series.

DC United (MLS)

Born in 1996, DC United have won four MSL Cups. They’ve also captured three US Open Cups and in 1998, beat Brazil’s Vasco de Gama in the final of the Copa Interamericana. 

Today they are best known as the team of former England captain and Manchester United star Wayne Rooney.

Washington Wizards (NBA) 

Known as the Capital Bullets for one season when they moved to DC from Baltimore in 1973, they became the Washington Bullets the following season. 

NBA Finals MVP Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes led them to the NBA title in 1977-78. They were the most recent team to win Game 7 of the NBA Finals on the road, defeating the SuperSonics in Seattle. Washington’s NBA team was renamed the Wizards in 1997.

Washington Redskins (NFL) 

One of the NFL’s oldest franchises, the Redskins relocated to the US capital from Boston in 1937, playing in five NFL Championship Games by 1945 and winning two of them. 

The Redskins have played in five Super Bowls and won three times but last played in the big game in Super Bowl XXVI in 1992.

Washington Capitals (NHL)

Off to an ominous start as an NHL expansion franchise in 1974-75, the Capitals set a league record for futility, going 8-67-5, losing 37 successive road games that season. The Capitals didn’t make the playoffs until the 1982-83 season and didn’t reach the Stanley Cup final until 1997-98. 

But they were swept that spring by the Detroit Red Wings. Finally, in 2017-18, led by superstar captain Alex Ovechkin, Washington beat the Vegas Golden Knights in five games to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title.

Photo by Jeffrey F Lin

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