HomePlay BallJudge Blocks D.C. Sports Betting Contract

Judge Blocks D.C. Sports Betting Contract

In Washington, D.C. the controversial no-bid $215 million sports betting contract awarded to Intralot was temporarily blocked by a Superior Court judge. A lawsuit filed by a local technology developer argued the contract violated the city's procurement laws and illegally barred him from competing for a portion of the work.

A Washington, D.C. Superior Court judge has extended a temporary restraining order blocking the District from proceeding on its controversial $215 million sports betting contract. The lawsuit was filed by resident and technology developer Dylan Carragher, who said the no-bid contract awarded to Greece-based Intralot violates the city’s procurement laws and allows officials to circumvent standard competitive bidding. Carragher said the contract illegally bars him and other vendors from participating in the “potentially lucrative enterprise.”

Carragher’s attorney Donald Temple stated, “We were praying hard for this. It’s the right decision. The judge looked at this and threw the ball straight across the plate. My client just wants the opportunity to compete.”

Superior Court Judge John Campbell said he wants to move forward quickly on the case. “It seems to me that we might as well just grapple with the issue. The merits are what they are. The legal argument is fairly straightforward.” He allowed Intralot to continue to operate the D.C. Lottery, as it has under contract with the city for 10 years.

The deal with Intralot divided D.C. Council members. But in July they voted 7-5 to suspend competitive bidding rules and award the sports betting contract to Intralot after Chairman Phil Mendelson warned that rejecting the contract would result in a “years-long” delay and $17 million in lost revenue.

D.C. Lottery officials said the lawsuit is delaying the planned start date of January 2020 for a citywide mobile sports wagering app, and also hurting small businesses hoping to profit from it. District Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey DeWitt argued the no-bid contract would allow the city to quickly launch and tax sports betting ahead of neighboring Maryland and Virginia, where sports betting is not legal.

Arguing against a monopoly for District sports betting, officials at FanDuel and DraftKings said an open, competitive market of licensed sports betting operators would generate the most revenue for the city and deliver a better product to consumers.

At-large Councilmember Elissa Silverman said, “I’ve had concerns all along about avoiding the competitive bidding process and our procurement rules. It looks like the court agrees with me. I want a lottery and sports betting contract that our public has confidence in.”

Earlier this year, a Washington Post investigation found the business Intralot has listed as its main lottery subcontractor, Veterans Services Corporation, had no employees and its website featured executives who didn’t work there. The report found the firm’s chief executive is an employee of Intralot’s subsidiary, DC09, and lives in Maryland.

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