Sports Betting May Soon Be Legalized in DC

Debate continues over details including how revenue would be spent and who would run sports betting

If all goes as expected, you may be able to bet on sports games from your cell phone or even your seat inside Capital One Arena early next year.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year opened the door for states to legalize sports betting in casinos and online. The D.C. Council has now given preliminary approval to a law that will legalize online sports betting.

Jack Evans is leading the effort to make the District one of the first places in the region to offer online betting — and start pulling in millions in estimated revenue.

"The ultimate goal is to make some money," Evans said. "And to allow our residents to participate."

Revenue estimates range from $20 million to $500 million, the Councilmember said.

The majority of D.C. Council and Mayor Bowser have expressed support for allowing online gaming, and Tuesday's vote passed 10-2.

Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau and David Grosso voted against the bill; Kenyan McDuffie was absent.

The mayor's office released a statement saying, “The Mayor supports Councilmember Evans’ efforts to make sports betting a viable revenue source for our growing needs. Sports betting can help us fund critical programs, create jobs for District residents, and allow visitors and commuters to further participate in our economy."

But there's still debate over details, including how the money would be spent. Evans suggested funding early childhood education and the arts.

It remains to be decided whether the DC Lottery or outside vendors would serve as operators.

Either way, adults in the District could bet on professional or college sports right from their phones as soon as February 2019.

The final vote is scheduled for Dec. 20.

Some Virginia lawmakers recently announced they're drafting legislation that would legalize sports betting. Maryland also considered a bill over the summer, but it didn't pass, NBC News reported.

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