Handle 19 won’t be opening in Washington, D.C., as soon as it would have liked. The company formally withdrew its sports betting operator application on Feb. 15, according to the Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG). According to a Handle 19 spokesman, Handle 19 will resubmit the application later this year with a new corporate structure. Handle 19 will have to pay a second $100,000 application fee, according to the OLG’s rules.
According to OLG spokesperson Nicole Jordan, OLG did not ask Handle 19 to rework its corporate structure, but the company does have the option to reapply for a license because it withdrew. Handle 19 is owned by former college football player and entrepreneur Shane August.
According to an executive order from the OLG dated Jan. 28, “Based upon the information contained in the application and the results of the due diligence background investigation, on January 4, 2021, the OLG’s Director of the Regulation and Oversight Division issued a Memorandum recommending the application be denied after determining Handle 19 did not meet the requirements for licensure due to investigative findings related to individual qualifiers.”
Handle 19 spokesman Kevin Slicker told Sports Handle that the company is aiming to reapply in 60-90 days, and according to the OLG, it takes an average of six-nine months to vet and review an application, meaning it could be up to a year from now before Handle 19 gets licensed.
Liquor license also on hold
Late last year August had planned to open his Capitol Hill location, a physical sportsbook, which would be the first independent sportsbook in the city. But the licensing process has stretched out, and the company has gotten enough pushback from the local community that it delayed its liquor license approval hearing from last fall to March 31, according to a company spokesperson.
The Capitol Hill Corner earlier this month reported that Handle 19’s sports betting application had been denied and that neighbors were pushing for the Alcohol and Beverage Regulatory Administration to reject Handle 19’s liquor license application. Handle 19 does not need a liquor license to open and offer sports betting, and according to Slicker, Handle 19 will open when it gets approval for its sports betting license, whether or not it has a liquor license.
Representatives from Handle 19 have had “multiple meetings” with the neighborhood association and are attempting to “address any issues they might have,” according to Slicker.
“There is nobody opening up new businesses during this time, and we’d be bringing jobs, and I think it will help the neighborhood,” Slicker said. “I think most of the businesses will agree.”
At a time when sports wagering is becoming mainstream and much less taboo, some neighborhood residents still fear that sports wagering will bring an unsavory element into the area. The Capitol Hill neighborhood in which Handle 19 will be located is an upscale urban area with families, elementary schools, day-care centers, and other family-friendly amenities. But it also home to establishments with liquor licenses, including full-service restaurants and bars.
Other operations up and running, applying
Handle 19’s August last fall told Sports Handle that his goal is to educate residents about his business by talking with them “individually.”
Handle 19 isn’t the only independent sports wagering business with plans to open in D.C. Grand Central Sports Bar and Capo Deli, both owned by A&B Hospitality, have partnered with Newgioco for sports wagering services and are also in the application process. Grand Central and Newgioco both submitted applications in November and are under review, according to the OLG website.
"The new sports betting experience offers responsible entertainment…"
How 'bout expensive with those NFL sides at -118?
Intralot Launches Digital Sports Betting Service in Washington DChttps://t.co/FoCjMjQmsp
— Alfonso Straffon 🇨🇷🇺🇸🇲🇽 (@astraffon) June 1, 2020
Since the District of Columbia went live with sports betting last May, only the Lottery’s GamBetDC and William Hill apps are available, though GamBetDC is the only one available throughout the city. And its downloads and revenue have not met expectations, which was not a surprise.
Retail wagering is available at the William Hill Sportsbook at Capital One Arena — the first professional sports venue in the U.S. to offer live wagering. Under the law, William Hill can offer digital wagering, but only within a two-block radius of Capital One Arena.