D.C. Sports Betting Launch Delayed Due to Pandemic

Published April 22, 2020 by Elana K

D.C. Sports Betting Launch Delayed Due to Pandemic

Sports betting in Washington D.C. was supposed to go live on March 31, but the Office of Lottery and Gaming has delayed the launch indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Washington, D.C. - There is still no word about when sportsbetting will reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. At the end of March, the Office of Lottery and Gaming in Washington, D.C. announced the delay of its sportsbetting launch until sports teams resume playing. Lottery’s sportsbetting initiative was supposed to go live on March 31, but since all U.S. sports teams have effectively canceled or delayed their seasons, Lottery wisely decided to delay the launch.

The original launch date of D.C.'s sportsbetting initiative September 2019, but that deadline was quickly postponed to January. Then the launch was pushed off to the March date, and has now been called off indefinitely.

The Intralot Controversy

The D.C. Lottery had already come under scrutiny last year since it awarded a no-bid contract to Intralot, the company that runs the District’s lottery program. One local actually filed a lawsuit over the contract, but a judge did not find any merit to it and Intralot continued with its development of a sportsbetting app. Now that the launch has been delayed a third time, Lottery isn’t winning any popularity contests.

While  Lottery can't be blamed for the outbreak of a global pandemic, would-be bettors have expressed frustration that they did not at least a few months of sportsbetting before the shut-down. The only (possible) consolation is that Lottery's app is finally ready, so when the crisis is over, it will be ready to launch. According to a D.C. Lottery spokesperson, “Lottery’s sports wagering mobile and web platforms are tested and ready to go live.” 

What to Expect When DC Sportsbetting Finally Does Launch

The system set up by the Office of Lottery and Gaming in Washington D.C. has some peculiarities to it. For example, wagers will not be allowed to be placed while on federal land and enclaves. Additionally, wagers will not be allowed to be placed within two blocks of the city’s stadiums. 

Paying the Price For Postponement

If D.C.’s sportsbetting had launched in January, the District would have seen at least some revenue from the endeavor, but now, the entire budget may need redoing. District CFO Jeffrey DeWitt warned that lawmakers may have to cut as much as $500 million from the budget for the fiscal year due to the postponement.

Additionally, the advantage that D.C. was supposed to have over its neighbors, Maryland and Virginia, in getting a headstart in sportsbetting has gone out the window. Now it will have to offer a superior product if it wants a leg up on the competition. The only bright side is that the D.C. Lottery has the app ready to launch, which at this point, the other states do not.

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