Sports Betting Alliance Calls on DC Mayor to Use Problem Gambling Funds Appropriately

The Sports Betting Alliance (SBA), a trade association of sportsbook operators that advocates on behalf of its members for consumer protections to ensure sports betting remains a safe entertainment activity for adults, says DC should rethink how it’s using its sports betting taxes.

DC Sports Betting Alliance responsible gaming
GambetDC sports betting kiosks in a DC bar. The Sports Betting Alliance is responding to reports that DC government officials are not properly using their sports betting tax money as pledged when such gambling was authorized. (Image: Getty)

Casino.org reported last month on how DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and the Council of the District of Columbia, the legislature of the local government in the nation’s capital, have decided to use the 10% tax that’s levied on sportsbooks.

In January 2019, when Bowser signed the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act to allow online sports betting and in-person wagering inside the district, area residents were told the new tax money from the expanded gambling would be used for pediatric care and early childhood development support. Along with the sports betting tax supposed to fund the “Birth-to-Three for All DC” initiative, the 2019 amendment said a small portion of the annual tax benefit would fund problem gambling resources up to $200,000 annually.

But Bowser and the district council have taken it upon themselves to reallocate the sports gaming tax benefit to the city’s General Fund. Rashas Young, DC’s senior vice president and chief strategy officer, told the media last month that the mayor and council have instead decided that they’re best suited to determine where the sports betting tax money goes.

SBA Lobbies DC

The Sports Betting Alliance 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 said the mayor and council should allocate the problem gambling money as initially directed to better protect bettors and the public.

The SBA told the DC officials that its member sportsbooks offer an array of in-app tools to help players manage their gambling habits and prevent or limit problem gambling. Such resources include self-limits on the amount of time spent on the platform, caps on deposits and betting amounts, and self-exclusion opportunities.

Legal sportsbooks in the US also typically have dedicated responsible gaming teams who monitor player activity for potential problem gambling behavior. The SBA also told the DC government that its members provide responsible gaming training before bringing an employee aboard.

But these initiatives, the alliance declared, work best when the host state or jurisdiction, DC in this instance, supports a standalone problem gaming resource program.

These internal protections are most effective when complemented by a publicly-administered problem gaming treatment and prevention program,” the SBA testified.

SBA members include BetMGM and FanDuel, which account for two of the four legal sportsbooks operating in DC.

The DC Lottery’s sportsbook app is GambetDC, which also provides retail wagering via in-person sportsbook kiosks located inside a host of restaurants, bars, and small businesses throughout the district. Caesars Sportsbook is the other licensed sportsbook in DC through its partnership with Capital One Arena.

Offshore Opponent

The SBA only represents legal sportsbooks operating in regulated markets. One of the alliance’s primary goals is to eliminate offshore sportsbooks that cater to US consumers through illicit websites.

Though sports betting is now legal in more than 30 states, the SBA says tens of billions of dollars are still bet each year on rogue offshore bookmaking websites.

“These illegal and unregulated offshore sports betting websites are unsafe products — offering no consumer protections, age verification, or responsible gaming protections. Illicit market users also routinely fall victim to scams and find themselves unable to remove funds from their accounts,” the SBA said.

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