Washington DC Sports Betting Launch Delayed By Coronavirus
The launch of sports betting in Washington, D.C., will be delayed because of the coronavirus.
Nicole Jordan, spokeswoman for the D.C. Office of Lottery and Gaming, told Gambling.com on Monday that the lottery will be “revising our launch strategy now based on the current state of world events.” It had planned to debut the sports betting app by the end of March and Jordan said the mobile and web platforms are tested and ready to go live.
”Almost all professional sports leagues globally have indefinitely suspended play amidst the growing concerns around COVID-19 and there are little-to-no games or bets to offer for the foreseeable future,” Jordan said in an email. “This goes for the lottery’s offering, as well as any other sports books operating in the U.S. and globally.
“We will be ready to fully debut our sportsbook when it is appropriate and safe to do.”
As recently as two weeks ago, the lottery still planned to launch its app. Jordan cautioned then, though, that the lottery recognized there would be no sports to bet on and would continue to monitor the situation.
But the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise at alarming rates in D.C. and neighboring Maryland and Virginia. The governors of Maryland and Virginia issued stay-at-home orders on Monday and the D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser told the council that she planned to follow the governors in the neighboring states, according to the Washington Post.
DC Used To Sports Betting Delays
It’s not the first time the lottery has seen a delay with sports betting.
The lottery originally hoped to begin in time for the 2019 NFL season, but lawsuits and other controversy pushed the timetable back. The D.C. Council suspended normal procurement rules and awarded a no-bid contract to Intralot for mobile betting. The district was sued over it and the no-bid contract was temporarily blocked by a judge.
But in early December 2019, a Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit. Days after the ruling, the council voted to expel councilmember Jack Evans, who introduced sports betting legislation in D.C. in September 2018, for alleged ethics violations. He resigned in January.
The D.C. legislation was expedited because nearby states had sports betting or were close to adding it. It’s legal in Delaware and West Virginia, was approved by Virginia, and Maryland will ask voters in a November referendum to OK sports betting.
Work On DC Launch Continues
Jordan said the lottery is continuing to work with its technology vendor, Intralot, on preparing the digital sports wagering platforms — a mobile app and website — for launch. She said the app and website have undergone build verification testing, quality compliance with district and federal laws and requirements.
”The lottery will release information about our sports offering in the coming days where you will be introduced to the brand and the functionality of our sportsbook,” Jordan said in the email.
Once the app and site are live, bettors will be able to register on their phone or online. The sportsbook plans to offer an abundance of sports, leagues and games as well as a variety of bet types, depending on which leagues return.
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