Due to COVID-19, D.C. Lottery Delays Launch of Sports Betting Indefinitely

Elana K. - April 9, 2020

The Office of Lottery and Gaming in Washington, D.C. has officially delayed the launch of its sports betting initiative until U.S. sports teams resume playing.

The Office of Lottery and Gaming in Washington, D.C. has officially delayed the launch of its sports-betting initiative until U.S. sports teams get back on track. The Lottery’s sports-betting initiative was supposed to go live on March 31, but since all U.S. sports teams have effectively canceled or delayed their seasons, that date is a no-go.

D.C.'s sports-betting initiative was originally supposed to have launched in September, but that deadline was quickly pushed back to January. Then that deadline was pushed off to the March launch date, and has now been called off indefinitely.

Can't Get No Satisfaction From the Lottery

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 sports-betting app. Now that the launch has been delayed a third time, no one is expressing satisfaction with the Lottery.

While the 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 sports-betting before the shut-down. The only (possible) consolation is that the 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, “The Lottery’s sports wagering mobile and web platforms are tested and ready to go live.” 

What to Expect When DC Sports-Betting 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 sports-betting 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 has 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 sports-betting 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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