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Sports betting bill has support in US capital

| By iGB Editorial Team
Author wants capital to act before neighbouring states

Washington, DC council member Jack Evans has urged lawmakers in the US capital to press ahead with introducing regulated sports betting as soon as possible – or miss out on the financial benefits.

Evans proposed a bill yesterday (Tuesday) that would allow sports wagering in the District of Columbia while pledging to generate much-needed funds for public childcare, arts and humanities programmes.

“We can be first and get a lot of money or 51st and not get any,” Evans said before yesterday’s council meeting.

He later added: “Today, we take the first steps towards capturing this exciting new stream of revenue, instead of watching District resident dollars fill the coffers of other jurisdictions.

“The District of Columbia will be the leader in a fast-growing industry. The city should take advantage of our ability to act before the Maryland or Virginia legislatures to create a thriving sports betting market, which will attract consumers to the District and generate revenue for District residents.”

The nearest location for sports betting is currently Hollywood Casino in West Virginia, about 65 miles from Washington, DC.

Crucially, though, Evans’ bill appears to have sufficient support from other council members, as well as Mayor Muriel Bowser, who is helping to draft the legislation along with council chairman Phil Mendelson.

Mendelson told the Washington Post he had agreed to help the bill pass, because he believes it is in the best interests of the city, even though he dislikes gambling.

Bowser’s chief of staff, John Falcicchio, added to the newspaper: “The Mayor supports council member Evans’ efforts to make sports betting a viable revenue source for our growing needs.

“Sports betting can help us fund critical programmes, create jobs for District residents and allow visitors and commuters to further participate in our economy.”

Under Evans’ proposals, a 10% tax on operators’ gross gaming revenues would be applied, in addition to a $50,000 fee for a five-year licence.

Half of the money raised would be put towards early-childhood care initiatives under the newly-introduced Birth-to-Three for All DC Act, with the remainder dedicated to the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Under Evans’ bill, athletes, coaches and referees would be prohibited from placing bets, while a maximum wager limit would be set.

The District’s chief financial officer, who already oversees the DC Lottery, would act as the regulator.

Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Wizards NBA basketball franchise and the Washington Capitals NHL ice hockey team, has already said that regulated sports betting would open up a “new frontier” for professional sports outfits.

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