March Madness bracket DC bet: Latest sports betting rules DC 2021

With March Madness returning to TV sets across the nation, we look into the status of sports betting in the district.

WASHINGTON — After a chaotic year full of canceled games and tournaments due to the global pandemic, March Madness is back in 2021. With the reemergence of sports in general, some have raised questions about sports betting in D.C. 

Currently, there are just two ways to participate in sports betting in the District; The virtual app, GAMBETDC and the sportsbook at Capital One Arena, run by William Hill. 

Nicole Jordan, Director of Marketing and Communications at DC Lottery, said that the pandemic impacted the spread of sports betting in the city.

“We were actually ready to hit go,” she said. “And then the pandemic happened.” 

On the DC Lottery Website, there’s a full breakdown of current applications to create a sportsbook in the city. In total, there are four Class A or Class B proposals: 

  • American Wagering, Inc: This Class A License is APPROVED. The sportsbook is located at the Capital One Arena, and is run by William Hill
  • Handle 19This application for a Class B License is currently listed as “WITHDRAWN”. After facing opposition from neighbors and the local ANC, the President and CEO pulled the plan for a sportsbook at 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. He told WUSA9 that this application may be re-submitted for the same location or elsewhere in DC, Maryland, or Virginia.
  • Grand Central: This application for a Class B License is currently listed as “UNDER REVIEW”. The sportsbook would be located at 2447 18th Street NW, at the current site of the Grand Central, a bar in Adams Morgan
  • BETMGMThis application for a Class A License is currently listed as “UNDER REVIEW”. The sportsbook would be located at Nationals Park.

The Handle 19 application, proposed for the old “Stanton Greene” bar on Pennsylvania Ave. SE received backlash almost immediately from neighbors.

 Elizabeth Morin, one of those neighbors, told WUSA9 that they had safety concerns about such a cash-heavy business coming to their neighborhood. 

“I want my kids to feel like they can walk to school,” she said. “Like they can walk around the neighborhood freely. And not have to worry about that.” 

The President and CEO of Handle 19, Shane August, said that this pressure from the ANC and local neighbors contributed to them temporarily withdrawing the application. 

“We would love to stay at 319 Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said. “Because I just think it’s a great opportunity. And it can provide a lot of value and benefit to the area. But as of now, all options are open. 

August said that they are now looking at options across the DMV. He said it’s also possible that they re-apply at the same location in Capitol Hill.

“Not dead,” he said. “Not dead at all. Far from dead.”

Morin sent WUSA9 numerous studies that have been done over the decades showing a correlation between casinos and upticks in crime. Other studies have found a correlation between gambling and violence

These Capitol Hill neighbors were concerned that the potential violence would follow the sportsbook into their neighborhood. 

“What kind of criminal wouldn’t want to walk by here in the middle of the night,” she said. “When a major game has just played. A bunch of folks has just lost money or gained money. And now they’re all outside with cash in their wallets.” 

Brett Smiley, The Editor In Chief of SportsHandle.Com said that most of the applications for sportsbooks across the country have been in casinos, race tracks, and sports arenas. This makes these smaller applications notable.

“It is kind of unique in D.C.,” he said. “Where there may be these stand-alone bars or class B venues.”

With Handle 19 temporarily withdrawn, the only active class B application is Grand Central in Adams Morgan, which would be located at 244718th St. NW. 

“I think part of it is you need to have a lot of financing in order to be able to run a sportsbook,” said Smiley. 

Jordan, from DC Lottery, said that more applications are likely in the next year, as the effects of the pandemic pass. 

“We are in talks with lots of privately operated books,” she said. “Who we were in negotiations with before. And then the pandemic happened and they slowed down. Now we’re seeing those conversations happening again.”