The D.C. Council voted Tuesday in favor of a bill that would legalize sports betting in Washington. The bill requires another vote to pass.
Earlier in fall, Jack Evans, Council member and Ward 2 Democrat, had introduced the bill titled “Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018”. The second and final vote for the bill is likely to be held at the December 18 legislative session.
Brianne Nadeau, Ward 1 Democrat and at-large Independent David Grosso voted against the bill, while others voted in favor of it. It was the first time that all members of the Council voted on a sports betting issue.
Last May, the Supreme Court had invalidated a law dating back to 1992 that restricted sports betting outside Nevada, saying that the law breached the rights of states. New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia are among a total of seven states that have since introduced their own laws legalizing sports gaming.
Bills for legalizing sports betting have also been introduced by Maryland and Virginia, where it is likely to be discussed next year.
In light of the development, some D.C. Council members saw the urgency to pass a regulation before Maryland and Virginia would benefit from the D.C. market.
Mr. Grosso, who opposed the bill, believes that there’s a rush to legalize sports betting in D.C. “This rush to make D.C. the first jurisdiction in the region to legalize sports betting gives me great pause as we do not fully understand the impact it will have on our communities,” he said in a statement.
“I’m concerned that not only will the revenue generated by this proposal come from the pockets of those who are most vulnerable in our city, but that it is not a reliable long-term funding source for the vital educational and public safety priorities for which the revenue has been dedicated,” Grosso added.
Establishments like bars and restaurants and major city sports stadiums like the Nationals Park, Capital One Arena, Audi Field and the new Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast Washington would respectively fall into two categories of licenses in the bill.
Mr. Evans wants sports betting legalized and ready at the beginning of the 2019 baseball season.