The Nation’s capital doesn’t have a massive thriving gambling industry, but with the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), that could change very soon. Washington DC is sandwiched between Virginia and Maryland —two states that are looking to legalize sports betting as soon as possible— but where does DC stand on authorizing sports betting? Let’s find out.

Is it legal to bet on sports in Washington DC?

Betting on sports is not yet legal in DC. In September 2018, DC Councilmember Jack Evans introduced the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018. This proposed legislation sought to authorize sports betting in the District of Columbia and create a strong regulatory framework for the activity. After months of discussion around the legislation, DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the legislation on 23 January 2019. This triggered a 60-day review period, where the bill was sent to Congress, as it would have a financial impact on the district.

Where will I be able to place bets on sporting events in Washington DC?

As there are no casinos in DC, the legislation proposes that sports betting would take place via a mobile app run by the DC Lottery. The legislation also includes provisions to allow four of Washington DC’s sports venues to offer on-site brick and mortar sportsbooks, should the owners of the stadia wish to. The four stadiums that could offer sports betting are:

  •    Capital One Arena
  •    Audi Field
  •    Nationals Park
  •    St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena

At a conference hosted by the American Gaming Association in March, Ted Leonsis, owner of the Capitals and Wizards announced that he would be attaching a sportsbook to the Capital One Arena. While speaking at the event, Leonsis said the former Greene Turtle restaurant could be converted into a sportsbook, and that patrons will be able to enter it without purchasing an event ticket.

What sports will I be able to bet on?

The proposed legislation does not specify which sports punters will be able to bet on. If DC’s sports betting model mirrors that of states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania punters should expect betting on all major pro and collegiate sports to be authorized.

What else can I bet on in Washington DC?

Until Washington DC’s sports betting market launches, DC’s residents and visitors can play lottery games hosted by the Washington DC Lottery. These games include multi-state draws and some scratch-off games. DC also permits charitable gambling in the form of bingo, raffles, pull-tab games and casino night charity events.

Remember, there are no casinos in the nation’s capital so if you want to unwind at a casino you will have to travel to one of the neighboring states.

The MGM National Harbor casino resort in Maryland is the closest casino to the District of Columbia. At this casino, patrons can enjoy several classic table games, including:

  •    Blackjack
  •    Poker
  •    Craps
  •    Slots
  •    Roulette

Are offshore gambling sites legal in Washington DC?

Although online gambling sites are illegal in DC, gambling laws do not mention offshore gambling sites, which throws the legality of the activity into question. However, sd offshore sites are unregulated and do not hold a license to serve DC’s residents, this means they are operating illegally.

Aside from legality, we recommend avoiding offshore gambling sites as they are not regulated or licensed to serve US customers. As they are not regulated, offshore sites may not have industry standard security and player protection measures in place.

Plus, there’s no guarantee that your funds will be safe with offshore betting sites, as you have no idea who is handling the funds you deposit. Licensed operators, on the other hand, are required to hold player funds in accounts separate from their own, or that of any other players.

You can identify an offshore gambling site by looking at its domain name – domains ending in .EU or .AG aren’t licensed to operate in DC.

Will it be safe to bet on sports in Washington DC?

DC’s limited gambling industry, which consists of the DC Lottery and charitable gambling activities,  is already closely regulated by the Office of Lottery and Charitable Games. Once sports betting goes live, the same regulator will be charged with oversight of the activity, making sports betting just as safe as any other gambling activity in the District.

Even with a closely regulated sports betting market, it is still up to punters to make sure that they are gambling responsibly. You should never bet more than you can afford to, chase your bets or view gambling as some kind of escape from your troubles. If you are concerned about your gambling habits, the National Council on Problem Gambling is based in DC and has a number of resources available.

You can contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline via:

Phone: +1-800-522-4700

Text: +1-800-522-4700

Live chat

How old do I have to be to gamble in Washington DC?

To play the DC Lottery or engage in charity bingo or pull-tab games, residents must be 18 years old.

The journey to legal and regulated sports betting in Washington DC

1982 – DC lawmakers approved a law permitting charitable gambling in the form of bingo and raffles. These same regulations are in place today. During the same year, the DC Lottery launched operations and profits were allocated to charitable causes.

1989 – Lawmakers attempted to replicate the Sports Action parlay game that the Oregon Lottery introduced, but the proposed game didn’t receive enough support.

1992 – Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), prohibiting sports betting across US states. Four states were made exempt from the law: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. These states had legal sports betting regulations in place.

2010 – In order to fill a hole in the DC budget, former politician Michael A. Brown introduced a bill that would legalize online gambling in the District. The bill was expanded upon to include 30 online gambling hotspots and successfully made it through committee stages.

2011 – The DC lottery was almost ready to launch online gambling services, but the project was scrapped at the last minute.

2012 – The Finance and Revenue Committee voted to repeal the program, under the grounds that it was hidden in the small print of the bill so that the districts were not completely aware of what they were voting for.

2018 – On 14 May, the Supreme Court reached a decision in the legal battle between New Jersey and the US sports leagues. In a 7 – 2 vote, it was agreed that one of the clauses in PASPA violated the Tenth Amendment, as it commandeered power from states to regulate their own gambling industries. This paved the way for all US states to decide whether or not to legalize sports betting. In the weeks after the repeal of PASPA, a number of US sportsbooks launched across the country.

In September, DC Councilmember Jack Evans introduced the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act that would legalize sports betting within the District of Columbia.

The bill was discussed by lawmakers in October and sent to the Council in November for approval. After several discussions surrounding the complexities of the bill, the council settled on implementing a single-operator model and the DC Lottery awarded Intralot the contract to power the lottery’s sports betting app.

2019 – On 24 January, DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the sports betting bill. this triggered a 60-day review period where the bill would be examined by Congress. The DC Lottery is currently working on regulations for sports betting in DC.

It’s important to remember that sports betting in DC is not legal just yet and that legislation is still being reviewed by Congress. For more regulatory updates on sports betting in DC, BettingUS has got you covered.