DC Council Passes Budget That Could End FanDuel Monopoly

Written By Mike Breen on June 20, 2024
Two people creating a budget

The Washington D.C. Council has unanimously approved its Fiscal Year 2025 budget, which includes a provision that would open up DC’s online sports betting market.

Pending final approval from Mayor Muriel Bowser and the US Congress, the passed budget would effectively end FanDuel’s monopoly on district-wide mobile sports betting.

The budget’s inclusion of Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie’s Sports Wagering Amendment Act of 2024 would allow Caesars and BetMGM (which operate retail sportsbooks in DC) to offer their mobile sports betting apps throughout the district.

DraftKings, Fanatics, and ESPN Bet have also expressed interest in entering the DC online sports wagering marketplace.

Provision allows DC to issue mobile-only licenses

The DC Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG) currently offers Washington D.C. sports betting through its partnership with Greek gaming services provider Intralot. The company was initially a partner with the unpopular GambetDC Sportsbook as the only district-wide online sports betting option.

Intralot replaced Gambet with FanDuel on April 15 and has seen a major increase in use and revenue. FanDuel also replaced the GambetDC platform on the sports betting kiosks available at DC bars and restaurants.

Earlier this year, McDuffie proposed the Sports Wagering Amendment Act of 2024 to amend the district’s sports betting law and expand mobile sports betting options. To speed up the process, the bill was folded into the FY 2025 budget.

McDuffie’s proposal allows retail sportsbooks operating at DC sports venues to launch their online sportsbooks across the district. Caesars operates an on-site sportsbook at Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards. BetMGM has a retail sportsbook at the Washington Nationals’ stadium.

Current DC law allows bettors to use the BetMGM and Caesars mobile apps only near those arenas.

The sports betting expansion included in the budget also allows the district to grant new mobile-only sportsbook licenses. At a May Council hearing, DraftKings, Fanatics, Caesars, and Penn Entertainment (which operates ESPN Bet) provided testimony in support of the online betting expansion, as did the district’s professional sports franchises.

Sports betting revenue will fund ‘Baby Bonds’ program

The DC Council approved the $21 billion budget at its June 12 meeting. Council had been at odds with Bowser’s proposed budget over cuts to some of the district’s safety-net programs.

The council’s approved budget includes reinstating the “Baby Bonds” program. This program provides $1,000 annually to newborns through the age of 18. Revenue from the expansion of sports betting will now fund the program.

Councilmember Zachary Parker opposed including sports wagering expansion in the budget, preferring it be further debated as a standalone piece of legislation. He offered an amendment that stripped out the sports betting provision.

The amendment argued that expanded mobile sports betting would have a negative impact on the small businesses that operate kiosks. It also claimed the city would make more revenue than predicted from the existing sports wagering framework.

Ahead of the June 12 meeting, Parker posted on X:

“District residents deserve a public record on any proposed changes to the district’s sports betting. Regardless of where you land on sports betting, we can agree that process matters. Fast-tracking sports betting through the budget is a choice, one that is unnecessary.”

Parker’s amendment failed by a 9-4 vote.

Mobile sports betting expansion could begin in mid-July

According to the Washington Post, McDuffie said he would introduce a separate amendment to address the concerns about the sports betting kiosks at the council’s June 25 legislative meeting. At that meeting, councilmembers will hold one more vote to approve the mechanics of implementing the budget.

McDuffie had previously suggested that if the new sports betting framework was approved, the expansion of the mobile sportsbook market could begin as early as July 15.

That’s when the OLG/Intralot contract expires. OLG has asked the council to approve an extension of the contract. However, with the looming mobile expansion, councilmembers may require the extension to include a provision ending FanDuel’s exclusivity.

Or they might vote to end the partnership entirely.

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