DC lawmakers approve sports betting

The D.C. Council has approved sports betting - and now the bill will go to the mayor, who is expected to sign it.

The council voted 11-2 in favor of the bill to allow betting at city stadiums and arenas, private businesses such as restaurants and liquor stores and with a mobile app within city limits.

D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) said in October if the bill is signed by the end of this year, sports betting in the District could begin in the spring.

Neighboring Virginia and Maryland have been in the process of trying to approve sports betting. A Northern Virginia lawmaker told FOX 5 that he wants to see legal sports gambling in his state by next year.

In Maryland, an effort in the General Assembly to take the issue to voters failed this year, but some lawmakers are hopeful there will be a referendum in 2020.

The Supreme Court cleared the way for the legalization of sports gambling after striking down a federal law against it in May.

West Virginia has already legalized sports betting. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in Charles Town, West Virginia, the closest sportsbook to the D.C. region, opened in September.

D.C. is joining a number of other states that have legalized the measure - including Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and West Virginia.

Because Washington lacks casinos, the D.C. Lottery would oversee sports betting, an arrangement that makes the nation's capital an outlier. Athens, Greece-based Intralot is the city's current lottery vendor. The lottery would sell licenses to sports books at arenas and stadiums for $250,000 over five years, and retailers would be able to purchase a two-year license for $5,000. There is no cap on the number of licenses.

Casino industry groups had a measured reaction to the bill's passage, saying that handing over control of sports gambling to the lottery could stifle competition.

"While the vote today is progress, we remain deeply concerned about giving the lottery a virtual monopoly in the mobile market," Sara Slane, a vice president 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."

Operators would be taxed at 10 percent of revenue, and city officials have estimated that legal sports gambling will bring in $92 million over four years. Critics said that figure was overly optimistic, particularly if neighboring Maryland, which has several casinos including the massive MGM National Harbor just over the city line, legalizes sports betting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.