D.C. Looking at Sports Betting

A member of the District of Columbia council says the district is seriously looking into sports betting through the D.C. Lottery in the wake of the removal of the federal sports betting ban.

A council member in the District of Columbia says officials are currently gauging the support for institution of a sports betting program through the D.C. Lottery, and says betting could be in place by the end of the year if the support is there.

The D.C. Council rejected a previous attempt to institute multi-game parlay betting on NFL games, amid condemnation from the professional sports leagues. However, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision removing the federal ban on sports betting, district officials are considering implementing wagering, a D.C. Council member told the Washington Post last week.

“I think the world today is a vastly different world than it was even 10 years ago for gambling in the District of Columbia,” D.C. Council member Jack Evans told the Post. “Anytime there was any talk of casino gambling in the District of Columbia, it was very strongly opposed, largely by the religious community. Fast-forward 15, 20 years, the world is different. Maryland has a casino less than a mile away from the District of Columbia, the MGM Grand, and Maryland is rife with gambling everywhere. So the idea of religious institutions being opposed, I think, is long gone now, certainly in Maryland.”

Evans said if the support is there, he ideally would like to see sports betting “by the end of the year.”

“Virtually every state in the country has gambling, and many of them have casino gambling, and for Congress to say you can’t have gambling in the District of Columbia when virtually every jurisdiction has gambling now would be completely hypocritical,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a stumbling block, either. So I think we can do what we think is best for the city.”

Sports betting is illegal in the District of Columbia under an early 20th century law that makes it illegal “to bet, gamble, or make books or pools on the result of any trotting race or running race of horses, or boat race, or race of any kind, or on any election or any contest of any kind, or game of base ball.”

The current D.C. statute expands the betting ban to include “football, baseball, softball, basketball, hockey, or polo game, or a tennis, golf, or wrestling match, or a tennis or golf tournament, or a prize fight or boxing match, or a trotting or running race of horses, or a running race of dogs, or any other athletic or sporting event or contest.”

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