Legal Blog

You Bet!: Important Things for DC Sportsbooks to Consider Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In December 2019, the District of Columbia Lottery began to accept applications for sports gambling licenses.  While various market participants prepared to submit applications to become licensed operators, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic changed, and in most instances, halted these efforts.  In the wake of COVID-19, the District of Columbia and the surrounding jurisdictions enacted stay-at-home orders and non-essential economic activity was almost entirely curtailed.  In the months following the initial lockdown, the District of Columbia is slowly moving toward a resumption of non-essential economic activity, which has included the gradual re-opening of bars and restaurants, many of which were planning to offer sports wagering prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Unless and until a sustainable vaccine becomes available to the public, which will allow businesses to re-open at their former full capacity, potential sports gambling operators should take steps to plan for operating in a world where COVID-19 safety protocols impact sports wagering business operations and the economy of their consumers for the foreseeable future.  With that in mind, here are three things to consider in planning for and applying for a sports wagering license amid the COVID-19 pandemic:


1. Anticipate how Food & Beverage and other operations of your business will affect the sports gambling component

A key component of the sports wagering laws is that sports gambling needs to be an ancillary part of another existing business.  Put another way, you cannot solely take bets; you must also operate another business on the premises, such as the sale of food and/or drinks.  Considering the COVID-19 regulations that are impacting hospitality establishments, in planning for a sports wagering license, the applicant needs to consider how sports wagering fits into the overall business plan, and how it can be affected by various Coronavirus regulations.


2. Plan for a wagering option that will provide maximum flexibility

In applying for a sports wagering license, the applicant will need to consider what type of sports wagering options will be offered.  For example, will betting be done through in-person point of sale, kiosks, or even a mobile app?  In considering what you will be offering, special consideration should be given to how these various options will be affected by potential long-term social distancing guidelines.  There are numerous factors that will dictate which options are appropriate, including your budget and the size of your space.


3. DC Lottery Approval

Whatever decision an applicant makes, any plans to deal with the Coronavirus or other subsequent public health issues should be submitted as part of the application to the DC Lottery.  The DC Lottery requires a detailed outline from its applicants as to how a sports wagering facility intends to operate.  Thus, disclosing in the initial application any contingency plans related to COVID-19 (or any other public health emergency) will allow a sportsbook operator to avoid the need to seek subsequent approvals from the DC Lottery.

Please feel free to contact Ian Thomas at  with any questions or interest about the industry.



ABOUT IAN THOMAS | 202-900-8592

Ian Thomas is an attorney in Offit Kurman’s Commercial Litigation practice group.  Ian likes to apply a “think-outside-the-box” approach to litigation, through which he seeks to find creative ways to resolve each legal issue that his clients face.  In applying this approach, Ian is able to identify a diverse and cost-effective set of options to resolve any legal problem that his clients encounter.









Tracy Buck holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from the University of Maryland, College Park and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.  While in law school, she was the Editor-in-Chief of the University of Maryland Law School’s Journal of Business and Technology Law as well as Vice President of the Business Law Society.  She practices real estate law, with a focus on foreclosure and litigation in the District of Columbia, where she has been litigating judicial foreclosures since the commencement of the judicial process in the District of Columbia.  Tracy is admitted to practice in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.








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