DC Bars Intrigued by Sports Betting License Opportunities as Top Lawyer Pushes Joint Concept
Posted on: July 30, 2019, 11:56h.
Last updated on: July 31, 2019, 12:09h.
As Washington, D.C. moves toward implementing sports betting, the District of Columbia government is seeking to roll out a type of license most sports betting states do not have.
As the District of Columbia does not have any casinos, it has become a little more innovative in how sportsbooks can find their way into town. While Intralot will manage the DC Lottery’s sportsbook, the Lottery will also give “Class A” licenses to the four major sporting venues in town: Audi Field, Capital One Arena, Nationals Park, and St. Elizabeth’s East Entertainment and Sports Arena.
Beyond that, though, the Lottery will also award “Class B” licenses to bars, restaurants, and hotels. One major caveat is none can be located within two blocks of a Class A venue.
The first step for aspiring Class B applicants is to seek approval from the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). According to WTOP-TV, three Washington bars have already contacted the ABRA to start the process.
Neighborhood Bar Wants to be on ‘Leading Edge’
One of those bars is The Brig, a beer garden establishment located near Capitol Hill.
The way co-owner Mark Brody describes The Brig, it doesn’t sound like your typical sports bar. There’s not one particular fanbase that calls the bar home as it draws both tourists and people who live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, people who hail from all parts of the country.
The neighborhood establishment is both kid and dog friendly.
“On Friday nights, or certain nights of the week, you’ll see people pushing strollers at our place,” he said. “We’re a place for everybody, and we want it to be a fun place that everybody can enjoy.”
Brody told Casino.org that while he’s not a gambler himself, he’s intrigued by the possibilities.
We just wanted to be on the leading edge,” he said. “There’s a lot of new business opportunities that happen and you never know which ones are going to be successful, but you want to keep yourself in a position to take advantage if it’s one of the good ones.”
Brody said the investment would likely be about a couple hundred thousand dollars. That would include the $100,000 license fee, plus funds to enclose at least part of the bar’s outdoor area and install additional televisions to go along with its 25-foot projection screen. That would also include the sportsbook infrastructure, too.
They have held talks with a possible sportsbook partner, which he declined to reveal.
Collaborative Venture Proposed
Brody said The Brig entered into the application process on its own. However, a prominent DC attorney with ties to the gaming industry has proposed a consortium where bars, restaurants, and hotels would come together and promote a shared platform.
Jeff Ifrah has created BetDC with the idea of bringing Class B applicants together. He told WTOP that he’d likely need at least 10 participating venues for the initiative to be profitable.
Ifrah is the founding member of Ifrah Law, a firm that includes online gaming and sports betting as a key practice field. Among the clients he’s represented in the past include PokerStars, part of The Stars Group.
Messages to Ifrah were not returned.
However, he told WTOP that there hasn’t been a lot of feedback from Lottery officials about the application process, although he understands why.
“They’re obviously preoccupied with their own things right now, including standing up their own product,” he said.
Regulation Review Ongoing
DC Lottery officials are currently reviewing the draft regulations for sports betting and are expected to approve the final rules within a few weeks. The goal is to get sportsbooks in place during football season.
Nicole Jordan, the lottery’s director of marketing and communications, told Casino.org the Lottery will not cap the number of Class B licenses it will award. She also said lottery officials haven’t received any information about Ifrah’s BetDC initiative.
Once the Lottery approves its regulations, the licensing process can begin. Qualified applicants seeking a provisional license, which would rely partially on their information submitted for another state’s sports betting license, could get an answer within 45 days. They would then be able to use that license to set up shop while the formal license application process starts.
That review could take up to six months, Jordan said.
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