The D.C. Council held a hearing on allowing sports betting in the city.
Earlier this year, a U.S. Supreme Court decision opened the gates for cities to cash in on sports betting and replace illegal betting.
“If we can get up and running before Maryland and Virginia and some of the other jurisdictions, we can capture the market," bill sponsor Council member Jack Evans said.
Supporters of his bill cite the proximity of legal gambling to D.C. — a casino across the river — as reason to go for the revenue.
Gambling opponents like Marie Drissel say revenue projections are too rosy.
“In order to reach the suggested $400 billion in sports betting, every man, woman, child and licensed dog would have to bet about $1,000 a year," she said.
A likely 10 percent tax on D.C.'s gambling revenue would go toward the arts and early childhood education. There's also a call for some gambling revenue to be fed into gambling addiction programs, offsetting the societal costs.
“People with gambling problems in the District — there are 15,000 D.C. residents who are suffering right now, often in silence, without any services from the Department of Health," National Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Keith Whyte said.
While bars, restaurants and hotels could get betting kiosks, D.C.'s betting heavily on online sports betting as brick-and-mortar based lottery revenues in the city are in the midst of a six-year decline.
Maryland is also considering legislation. Virginia is not at this point.