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Washington DC votes to legalise sports betting

Washington DC has become the eighth US jurisdiction to legalise sports betting in 2018 following a vote by the DC Council on Tuesday. It is the first jurisdiction without casinos to authorise sportsbooks.

The bill still needs mayoral and congressional approval but these steps are expected to be given the green light in time for Major League Baseball’s opening day in April, although there is no firm timetable.

The bill – which authorises both land-based and mobile sports betting – will levy a 10-per-cent tax rate on operators and is expected to generate $92m (€81m) over the next four years.

Due to the lack of casinos, the DC Lottery will oversee sports betting in the city borders, an arrangement that makes the US capital an outlier. The lottery will sell licenses to sportsbooks at arenas and stadiums for $250,000 over five years, while retailers will be able to purchase a two-year license for $5,000.

“While the vote today is progress, we remain deeply concerned about giving the lottery a virtual monopoly in the mobile market,” Sara Slane, senior vice-president of public affairs at the American Gaming Association, said in a statement.

“Predictably, this will result in less investment and innovation, to the detriment of consumers and the ability of a nascent legal marketplace to compete with the accessibility and convenience offered by many established illegal wagering operations.”