The Capital is one step closer to launching regulated mobile wagering following the approval of Intralot’s contract by members of the DC Council.
The contract was awarded to Intralot on a sole-source, no-bid basis, and it gives the provider exclusive rights to run the District’s regulated sports betting and lottery sales operations for five years.
In the run-up to the Tuesday hearing, city officials argued that the Greece-based technology supplier is the best-placed company to power DC sports betting and that the Capital would reap enormous profits from the contract.
The argument was opposed by various stakeholders who thought that the deal was rather high-priced. Besides, some of the best minds in the industry argued that the contract should have been awarded on a competitive basis.
Despite the opposition, the Council approved the Intralot agreement with a vote of 7-5.
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Row over Intralot contract delays DC sports betting
The decision to award the multi-million sports betting contract to the Greek vendor was met by a public outcry from the start.
The Capital passed its legal wagering bill in November last year, awarding the DC Lottery the monopoly conduct online wagering operations in the jurisdiction. In January, officials from the DC Lottery announced that they would be having direct negotiations with Intralot instead of starting a competitive bidding process as is the standard procedure with other government contracts.
According to the officials, starting a bidding process would delay the jurisdiction’s goal to have a legal market by summer. Some Council members supported this decision since they wanted the District to roll out legal wagering before the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia.
However, a majority of stakeholders and members of the public criticized the decision, forcing the lawmakers to delay the launch to allow for public participation.
Argument against Intralot
Over the last six months, a lot of arguments have been brought forward against the operator, including claims that it is financially incapable of delivering the contract.
Also, keen observers read foul play and political interference in the deal, with some legislators linking councilmember Jack Evans to the agreement. The lawmaker, who was one of the most vocal proponents of expedited sports betting in the District, is facing various corruption allegations, and he is currently under investigation for his underhand business dealings with gambling firms and companies in other sectors.
However, the ethical questions surrounding the Intralot deal as well as the issue of the company’s financial stability were swept under the rug on Tuesday as the Council members cast their votes.
Intralot says it will withhold 30% of all wagers
The controversy surrounding DC sports betting is not dying down any time soon.
Before the Tuesday vote, Intralot stated that it would hold close to a third of all wagers placed by bettors in the District.
The claim has been flawed by the industry’s best minds, who point out that the high trading margin will be a turn off for bettors.
According to the observers, the rate makes the DC sports betting product unattractive, and it will encourage players to continue placing illegal wagers with offshore bookies which tend to offer better odds.