Legislators in the District of Columbia have voted to legalise sports betting in the United States capital.
This makes Washington, DC the first US city without casinos to operate legal sportsbooks.
On Tuesday, the city’s council voted 11-2 in favour of legal betting on sports in stadiums, arenas, liquor stores, restaurants, and mobile apps limited to the city.
The bill now needs the signature of the city’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, to become a law and undergo review at Congress.
There is no set date for the process to be completed, but supporters of the bill are optimistic that a legalised gambling industry is only a few months away.
This comes after the US Supreme Court quashed the nationwide ban on sports betting last May.
Several states have legalised sports bets since then, while many more are in the process.
Until the bill becomes law, punters in Washington can frequent the Charles Town Races sportsbook in West Virginia.
The nearby states of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania also have legitimate sports betting industries.
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Regulation of Washington’s wagering firms would fall to DC Lottery, which would issue five-year licences at a cost of $250,000 to sportsbooks and arenas.
Retailers in the city would also have the option to buy a two-year licence for $5,000.
Operators would pay 10 per cent tax on revenue, with city officials estimating a $92 million boost to the district’s coffers.
Casino industry groups have raised concerns over the handling of sports gambling by DC Lottery, saying it could hinder competition.
“While the vote today is progress, we remain deeply concerned about giving the lottery a virtual monopoly in the mobile market,” said Sara Slane of the American Gaming Association.
“Predictably, this will result in less investment and innovation, to the detriment of consumers and the ability of a nascent legal marketplace to compete with the accessibility and convenience offered by many established illegal wagering operations.”
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