New Sportsbook Business ‘Handle19’ Forges Ahead With Plans To Open In DC This Fall, Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

Image: Handle 19

According to the Washington Business Journal, entrepreneur Shane August is forging ahead with plans to open a D.C.-based sportsbook, despite issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. August has finalized a lease and his sportsbook application to the D.C. Lottery.

‘Handle19‘, a 6,000-square-foot space located at 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, will have three floors with a bar, restaurant, sportsbook and an area where patrons can cash out bets on sporting events.

“We think there’s a lot of different transportation options at that location as well, which I think is going to allow us to really expand our customer base and have a sportsbook that can serve the entire city and the surrounding areas in Northern Virginia and Maryland,” Ian Thomas, outside general counsel for Handle19, said in an interview.

Handle19, the company August founded to enter the D.C. sports betting market, was the only D.C. bar and restaurant operation not connected with a sports stadium to fully submit its application to the D.C. Lottery as of May 22, per its most recent updated information.

On Thursday The DC Lottery announced the launch of its online sports wagering platform in Washington D.C., though the roll out of a supporting mobile app has again been delayed until June. Developed in partnership with Intralot, the Gambet DC platform had been due to go live in March, but the launch was pushed back due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Current application status.

Monumnetal Sports

Monumental Sports, which owns the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics and the Capital One Arena, has said it hopes to open a sports betting operation in the sports venue where The Greene Turtle used to sit. Construction on the new venue was well underway when sports was suspended in early March.

Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has always been a strong proponent of sports betting, as he detailed in this Washington Post video from October of 2018:

Timeline To  A Wager

On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to nullify the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, the federal law that prohibited sports gambling in all but a handful of areas.

The possibility of legal DC sports betting first appeared in September 2018. That’s when DC Councilmember Jack Evans introduced the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018.

The bill received a hearing in October and then underwent a major change before coming before the council for approval in late November. Evans amended the bill to include an integrity fee of 0.25 percent of revenue.

That proposal swiftly disappeared from the legislation via a unanimous vote of the council, leading to lobbying for its return by a strange alliance of leagues and operators.

The next battle came a week later. Evans pushed for a single-operator model run by the lottery, while DraftKings, FanDuel, and others pushed for at least five licenses to be available. An amendment proposed to include multiple operators failed and the lottery retained the primary rights to operate DC sports betting.

On October 29th, 2018, the NHL named MGM Resorts the first official sports betting partner of the League.

In early November, 2018, the league entered into a partnership with FanDuel. The multi-year deal made FanDuel the official daily fantasy sports partner and an official sports betting partner for the professional hockey league via its FanDuel Sportsbook.

On December 18, 2018, the D.C. Council passed the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018, which Mayor Muriel Bowser signed in January. The next month, the D.C. Council gave final approval to the bill fast-tracking sports betting.

Act 22-594, the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018, as amended by Act 23-2, was signed into law on January 23, 2019, and transmitted to the U.S. Congress for review on February 7, 2019. This legislation cleared congressional review and became law on May 3, 2019. The law legalized sports wagering in the District of Columbia.

In March of 2019, the NHL announced that they had brought sports book operator William Hill on board as an official sports betting partner of the NHL.

On March 27th, 2019, Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis confirmed that the Greene Turtle restaurant at Capital One Arena will become a sportsbook. Leonsis made the comments during the American Gaming Association’s Sports Betting Executive Summit at MGM National Harbor.

In July of 2019, Former American Gaming Association (AGA) executive Sara Slane announced that she will work as a consultant for the National Hockey League (NHL), advising its teams on sports betting strategies. Slane’s consulting company, Slane Advisory,  is based in Washington, D.C.

On October 3, 2019, betting firm William Hill WMH PLC and the owner of Washington’s basketball and hockey teams announced a partnership to open a sports-betting venue inside the district’s Capital One Arena, in what would be the first wagering establishment inside a major-league sports venue in the U.S. The sportsbook is expected to open as soon as 2020, depending on regulatory approval. Financial terms weren’t disclosed for the deal between the American subsidiary of U.K.-based William Hill and Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owner of the NBA’s Wizards, WNBA’s Mystics and NHL’s Capitals.

On May 28, 2020, The DC Lottery announced the launch of its online sports wagering platform in Washington D.C., though the roll out of a supporting mobile app has again been delayed until June. Developed in partnership with Intralot, the Gambet DC platform had been due to go live in March, but the launch was pushed back due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Players in the state can now register for an account via the Gambet website and place sports wagers, though options are currently limited due to the ongoing suspension of many major sports events as a result of the outbreak. Per sports wagering laws in Washington D.C., betting will be permitted on all major sports events and collegiate sports, though players will not be able to bet on events featuring college teams located in the state.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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