n a roll call vote Tuesday evening, D.C. Councilman Jack Evans cast the final vote needed to approve a USD 215 million sole-source contract with Greek gaming company Intralot that will bring online sports wagering to the District of Columbia.
The D.C. Office of Lottery and Charitable Games negotiated the five-year contract and faced stern pushback from council members who took issue with bypassing the procurement process, Intralot's financial stability and the seven subcontractors selected to help to carry out the various operations. Intralot also operates the D.C. lottery.
The Washington Post reported last month that several of the subcontractors, including District law firm Goldblatt, Martin and Pozen, investment firm District Services Management and Octane Public Relations have, or have had in the past, connections to D.C. government and its elected officials, including Evans and Mayor Muriel Bowser. Opponents argued these connections give the appearance of conflicts of interest.
Evans, earlier in the evening, was stripped of his chairmanship of the Committee on Finance and Revenue while an independent investigation is launched into potential violations of council ethics rules.
D.C. Lottery Executive Director Beth Breshnahan told council members in a roundtable discussion late last month that her agency had no part in selecting Intralot's subcontractors, a statement Council Chairman Phil Mendelson repeated during Tuesday's meeting. "It's Intralot's business who the subcontractors are," he said, according to Washington Business Journal. "The District has no relationship with the subcontractors, did not choose them, cannot fire them, cannot direct them, does not pay them."
In a 7-5 vote, Council members Mary Cheh, D-Ward 3; Brianne Nadaeu, D-Ward 1; David Grosso, I-At large; Charles Allen, D-Ward 6; and Elissa Silverman, I-At large voted against the measure. Council members Vincent Gray, D-Ward 7; Kenyan McDuffie, D-Ward 5; Brandon Todd, D-Ward 4; Robert White, D-At large; Anita Bonds, D-At large; Mendelson and Evans voted to approve the contract. Trayon White, D-Ward 8, was absent.
Evans was the primary proponent of the council's efforts to bring sports wagering to D.C. Silverman, Cheh and Grosso asked Evans during the discussion to recuse himself from the vote. He declined.
The Post reported Monday that Robert White was leaning against the contract, but he said during Tuesday's meeting that his decision to vote for it ultimately came down to his view that a competitive procurement process wouldn't alleviate concerns regarding the affiliations of subcontractors or boost the small businesses that stand to benefit from sports wagering.
The D.C. Lottery says that Intralot's sports wagering platform will be available by January and temporary licensees for private sportsbook operators should be issued by September if no complaints are raised by the July 15 deadline regarding the guidelines disseminated last month.