Dirty Water Is H Street’s First Sports Betting Applicant – Duffy’s Not Far Behind
by Larry Janezich
Last week, ANC6A’s alcohol beverage committee considered Dirty Water’s sports gambling application, then took a wait and see approach, referring the Boston-oriented H Street sports bar to the full ANC6A meeting on September 12. The matter before the committee was a request for a “substantial change” in the establishment’s liquor license. If a substantial change is granted to the liquor license, it would come up for review every three years with the renewal of the liquor license.
The process of establishing sports betting in DC – authorized in December, 2018 by the city council – is “uncharted water,” according to Dirty Water owner Ted Luongo, but the discussion at the meeting revealed some details on how it will work, and potential problems.
Luongo, told the committee that he was trying to figure out the process as he goes along, “like everybody else.” He said Dirty Water has to have sports betting to be competitive. City officials are still working out the regulations, restrictions on advertising, licensing details, and a ban on betting on local college sports. Luongo said that having ABRA involved was a new wrinkle that added an additional level of bureaucracy to the process.
DC’s sports gambling industry will be overseen by DC Lottery which has no process for public review. Committee chair Jay Williams explained that requiring applicants to amend their liquor license to allow for a “substantial change,” gives the public an opportunity to weigh in on the process.
Luongo’s application says he intends to have three kiosks – which look like ATM machines – in his third floor bar as 816 H Street. He also said that a mobile app is being worked out that would work only inside a venue’s physical location. The app is unlikely to launch before January.
Getting a sports betting license for small players will take three to six months, not in time for the beginning of this year’s football season. Luongo says that for him, a January start date is more realistic.
Asked how the pay out to winners would be handled, Luongo said “We don’t want to be in the casino business. No one uses cash any more. Details haven’t been worked out yet, but the goal is to pay out directly to a winner’s account by mobile phone.” He says, if it ends up being a cash payout on site, “we’re not going to do it.”
The ANC voted 3-0 to take no action, which will bring it up before the full ANC in September. Duffy’s Irish Pub at 1016 H Street, is expected to file an application for sports wagering in September and on lower Barracks Row, The Brig is expected to follow suit.
Asked for comment on the committee action, Chair Jay Williams said, “It’s hard to be proactive on an issue so unknown. The sports betting industry is heavily regulated. The committee’s approach was wait and see – avoid imposing new regulations when we’re not sure how it will work out. We don’t want to solve problems when it’s not clear that there are problems. We should wait and see how others react others – how other ANCs respond, including ANC 6A, and address problems as they come up. Both Dirty Water and Duffy’s have been responsive to ANC concerns and are good neighbors. I’m confident that if concerns arise they will address them.”