Buried in the minutiae of a 10 April budget meeting, Washington DC's Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG) revealed that it is preparing to ask the DC City Council to approve a two-year extension to its deal with lottery and sports betting operator Intralot.

To recap, the OLG in March alerted the DC Council that it would be unwinding its chronically underperforming sports betting platform, GambetDC. The platform is run by lottery vendor Intralot.

Under its existing contract, the agreement will expire on 14 July. In March, OLG approved Intralot’s request to subcontract online sports betting to FanDuel.

Now the agency will request a two-year extension for the soon-to-expire deal. If approved, the deal could mean that FanDuel would have a two-year head start on digital sports betting in the District.

That two years, lottery chief Frank Suarez told the DC Council’s Committee on Business and Economic Development, would allow it enough time to issue an RFP (request for proposal). This would be either for a new vendor or multiple new vendors.

Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie has filed a bill that would create a competitive marketplace in DC. This would be in contrast to the current single-operator model. The DC Council has not yet taken any action on the bill, 25-0753. It is on the agenda for a 6 May Business and Economic Development meeting.

OLG planning to launch FanDuel today

If McDuffie’s bill passes, and the OLG extends lottery vendor Intralot’s contract, it would see Intralot, and therefore FanDuel, have a two-year monopoly before other operators are allowed to enter the fray.

The OLG announced last week that it planned to launch the FanDuel digital platform today (15 April). It will then begin replacing GambetDC kiosks with FanDuel products at retail locations. According to the OLG, bets placed on GambetDC prior to 14 April, but which will be settled by 30 June, will remain active. Customers can also withdraw funds from GambetDC until 15 October. However, funds from GambetDC will not transfer to FanDuel. Instead, customers will have to create a FanDuel account in order to bet in the District after 14 April.

So far, the DC Council has not yet taken any action on McDuffie’s bill.

As Washington, DC bits a half-hearted farewell to GambetDC and awaits FanDuel's arrival, Jill Dorson looks back at what went wrong with the US capital's first citywide sportsbookhttps://t.co/UavuLGeTxV

— iGB (@iGamingBusiness) March 26, 2024

As things stand now, the OLG is mandated to contract only with lottery vendor Intralot. This is because the current regulation only allows for one wagering platform that is available throughout the city. McDuffie’s bill would change the rules and allow multiple platforms to be available throughout DC.

RFP and launch process would take two years

Suarez told the committee that the two-year extension would be for lottery vendor Intralot to continue the lottery and wagering contracts. But after that, the OLG could split the contracts, meaning that Intralot would not automatically renew its sports betting contract.

During the Business and Economic Development hearing, Suarez said that the RFP process takes about a year. This includes drafting the request, accepting and vetting bids and awarding a contract.

As per the hearing, it is asking for the Intralot/FanDuel contract to be extended two years. This is in order to have enough time to award one or more licences. Following that, it will then need to license additional or different operators, if necessary.

Other operators will see inequity

Operators not named FanDuel are likely to be fuming at the inequity. In particular, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook are already offering wagering in DC. Under the current law, they can offer betting at their partner venues and within a two-block exclusion zone.

dc geofencing
Currently, operators partnered with sports teams or venues can offer platforms at the venue and within two blocks. lottery vendor intralot’s platform is the only one available throughout dc.

Extending their offerings to the whole city would be just a matter of changing the geofencing. BetMGM is partnered with the MLB Washington Nationals. Caesars is partnered with the NBA Wizards and NHL Capitals.

In addition, operators such as DraftKings, ESPN Bet, Fanatics Sportsbook and others have highlighted their desire to enter the market. This is given their proximity in neighbouring Maryland and Virginia. None of these, however, were offered the opportunity to take over GambetDC. This is because just like the original Intralot no-bid sports betting contract, the latest round was also not an open process.

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