The DC Lottery says the launch of its citywide app for sports betting will be delayed once again.
The app initially was slated to be up and running this fall and had already been pushed back until January. Now, a Lottery spokesperson says the sports betting app will launch sometime during the first quarter of 2020.
Development of that app was halted for three weeks while the District's contract with the company developing it was challenged in court. A judge issued a temporary restraining order in September, which was later lifted in mid-October. The lawsuit is still pending.
"Hopefully, the delay of the District-wide app won't translate to a further delay for us," said gaming attorney Jeff Ifrah.
Ifrah organized Bet DC, a group of at least 28 restaurants and bars working together to develop a sports betting app to operate within their small business locations.
He was disappointed to see that the District has further restricted which small businesses can participate in sports betting with the expansion of four exclusivity zones. The District released updated maps designating those zones this week.
The zones are within a two-block radius of D.C.'s major sports venues where only the app affiliated with that venue will be permitted. The expanded zones block at least a half-dozen additional small businesses from participating in sports betting, when compared with the original zones released in August.
"We're extremely disappointed at this development,” Ifrah said. “We were expecting a small business-friendly amendment, not one that makes the situation worse.”
Ifrah represents two restaurants that appealed the original drawing of the zones, disputing the District's definition of two blocks. The owner of Willie's Brew and Cue told the News4 I-Team his business is three blocks from Nationals Park and he should not have been included in the zone and excluded from profiting from sports betting. Ifrah says DC Lottery has not formally ruled on the appeals, however the updated maps expanded the zones rather than reducing them.
A DC Lottery spokesperson told the I-Team the zones were "final" back in August. That spokesperson now refers to them as "draft maps," saying "slight revisions" were made for "clarity purposes."
On Dec. 3, D.C.'s four professional sports venues and small businesses interested in offering sports betting will be able to apply for Class A and Class B licenses.
"We're very excited to get started," Ifrah said. "We've been waiting for two months for these applications to become available. We trust that the lottery will be fair and transparent in awarding licenses."
The DC Lottery said it expects to take 30-45 days to review the applications and begin approving licenses.
"Hopefully, they'll approve them quickly," Ifrah said. "We want to get going right away. We still hope to be live by the Super Bowl, and this gives us a shot."