Sports Betting Alliance Demands DC Mayor Utilize Problem Gambling Funds Effectively

The Sports Betting Alliance (SBA), a trade association of sportsbook operators that advocates on behalf of its members to ensure sports betting is a secure entertainment activity for adults, has urged the District of Columbia to reconsider its use of sports betting taxes. reported last month that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and the Council of the District of Columbia had decided to use the 10% tax collected from sportsbooks for purposes other than those initially promised when sports betting was authorized.

At that time, Bowser had signed the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act to permit online sports betting and in-person wagering within the district, with the expectation that the tax proceeds would be used to finance the “Birth-to-Three for All DC” initiative and provide problem gambling resources up to $200,000 annually. Nonetheless, Bowser and the district council have chosen to reallocate the sports gaming tax benefit to the city’s General Fund.

In response, the SBA recently submitted testimony to the Council of the District of Columbia’s Committee on Health during the city’s fiscal 2024 Budget Oversight hearings. The sports betting group noted that its member sportsbooks offer a range of in-app features to help players manage their betting habits and prevent problem gambling, such as time limits, deposit and wagering caps, and self-exclusion options. The SBA also stated that these internal protections can be more effective with the help of a publicly-administered problem gambling treatment and prevention program.

SBA’s members include BetMGM and FanDuel, two of the four licensed sportsbooks operating in DC. The DC Lottery’s sportsbook app is GambetDC, which also provides retail wagering via kiosks located in restaurants, bars, and other local businesses. Caesars Sportsbook is the other licensed sportsbook in DC through its partnership with Capital One Arena.

The SBA, which only represents legal sportsbooks operating in regulated markets, seeks to eliminate offshore sportsbooks that service US customers through illegitimate websites. Although sports betting is now legal in more than 30 states, the SBA estimates that billions of dollars are still wagered annually on unauthorized offshore bookmaking websites. These sites, the SBA highlighted, fail to provide any consumer protections, age verification, or responsible gaming safeguards, leaving users vulnerable to scams and other financial risks.