- The Washington Times
Thursday, June 27, 2019



The Garden State has dethroned the Silver State.

That is to say New Jersey now wears the crown of sports-betting king.

The crown change comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government cannot prohibit states from taxing and regulating sports gambling outside of the old standbys of, say, boxing and bingo.

New Jersey, already a destination drawn because of its beaches, casinos and boxing matches, was among several states and the District of Columbia to begin ponying up legalized sports betting. (Big money on the Nets becoming an NBA powerhouse, lol?)

By the end of this year, D.C. and a dozen states this side of the Mississippi could implement legalized sports betting. In the Deep South and far West, for example, officials have sidelined the SEC and Pac-12 college programs.

The local authorities of the nation’s capital, which has been toying with a lottery for decades to boost funds for schools, are off to a rocky start.

Like New Jersey, the D.C. government jumped in the legalized-gambling line early, promising to have the city’s betting programs up and running this fall.

Now, they seemingly are behind a deadline of their own making.

Why, you ask?

Well, the proposal under consideration would have the same contract that handles the lottery contract, Intralot, would be handling the sports-gaming contract.

But two things have thrown wrenches in that plan: 1) The contract was a no-bid deal, and 2) the contract and proposal were ushered through by D.C. Council member Jack Evans, the chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee who is being investigated for influence peddling.

Allow me this, too. Several years ago, when the council was seriously considering online legislation to legalize online gambling, I asked city officials a simple question: How would the city be able distinguish gambler in a house on the border of the D.C.-Maryland line, such as Eastern Avenue Northeast, from a house across the street in Maryland?

No answer.

D.C. hasn’t even figured out to distinguish a child online from an adult. An actual boxer who wants to throw a fight from a pulp fiction character. Really.

What about public safety at gambling sites? Ask the Trump family, which owns a high-end hotel. Oh, or the Reagan trade center, from which gamblers could easily stroll to the National Mall and see the sherry blossoms.

It’s not clear what members of the Senate and the House think about sports betting within D.C. borders, but since they decide how the District spends public dollars we should soon find out. The District’s fiscal 2020 budget is in their hands.

Any takers?

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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