Sports betting operators in Washington, D.C. will be able to set their own bet limits and the two-block exclusion zone around pro sports facilities has been better defined. Those are two key changes the Office of the Lottery and Charitable Games made to its proposed rules in response to concerns from stakeholders.
The OLG adopted its final sports betting regulations last week, and the new rules were published in the Aug. 30 issue of the D.C. Register. From here, it’s likely that operators could go live with sports betting in the nation’s capital sometime during the first quarter of 2020. The D.C. Lottery’s mobile sports betting app is on track to launch in January 2020.
Four professional sports venues and Class B licensees may offer retail sportsbooks and mobile betting on/near premises under certain terms, while the D.C.’s own online app, approved by the Council amid ongoing controversy and allegations of self-dealing, will be the only app available citywide.
According to the OLG, it received more than 100 public comments during the 30-day period in June and July. The rules are effective immediately. The next step will be opening the license process for potential vendors. According to an OLG spokesperson, there is no set date for that process to start, but once it does, it should take 30-45 days from the receipt of an application until a provisional license is awarded (or denied). It could take up to six months for a more permanent license to be issued.
Explanation of changes
The fact that the Lottery entertained questions and adjusted regulations accordingly should be a positive signal to potential operators.
“Obviously, D.C. took the comments that some operators put forward and listened to those and tried to incorporate those as best they could,” said Brendan Bussmann, Director of Government Affairs for Global Market Advisors said. “There’s other jurisdictions where that’s really just a formality. It’s the first time I felt comfortable that the regulatory structure in DC would be able to viewed in a positive light.”
In the proposed regulations, which were rolled out early this summer, regulators wrote that they would determine bet limits for individual sportsbooks, but in response to multiple stakeholders, that regulation has been changed to allow operators to set their own bet limits, both minimum and maximum.
— Doug Friedman (@doug70friedman) August 31, 2019
Another key concern was the two-block exclusion zone, designed to give the city’s four professional sports venues a buffer zone between their operations and others in the city. The OLG has now provided an overlay map defining the exclusion zone around the four professional stadiums.
In the regulations, there are multiple types of licenses, but the two most discussed are the Class A license, which may be issued at four pro sports venues — Audi Field (MLS DC United), Capital One Arena (NBA Wizards, NHL Capitals), National Park (MLB Nationals) and St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena (WNBA Mystics, Wizards practice facility).
The Washington Redskins have not been a key part of the D.C. sports betting conversation as FedEx Field is located in Maryland.
Class B licenses are for other operators within the city. A Class B licensee can only offer sports wagering within the “physical confines of the licensed location,” but not within the two-block exclusion zone. Class B licensees may offer sports betting at bars, restaurants, or hotels, as examples.
The latest regulations allow for a Class A operator to conduct mobile/internet sports betting if the “transaction is initiated or received” within the confines of an approved sports betting facility or within two blocks of the facility while a Class B operator can only conduct mobile/internet sports betting if the transaction is initiated or received within the confines of the sports betting facility, but not within the two-block exclusion zone.
No ‘official league data’ mandate
The updated regulations also address many other issues, including better defining the accuracy of geofencing, how some accounting issues should be handled and making changes to semantics suggested by DraftKings, such as changing “calendar days” to “business days.”
The Lottery also declined to mandate the use of official league data, as requested by the Nationals during the comment period. Though there is no mandate, the OLG did leave some wiggle room in terms of data, writing: “Under §2108.3 of the adopted rule, Operators and Management Service Providers are required to report to the Office the sources of data that they use to resolve sports wagers. The Office may disapprove of the sources of data for any reason, including but not limited to, the type of wager and method of data collection.”
Once sports betting goes live in the District of Columbia, bettors will be able to wager on professional sports and college sports, though there is a carve out for Washington, D.C.-based collegiate teams and events. Bettors must be 18 years old to wager.