DC’s sports gambling legislation shows clear signs of nepotism
Companies and individuals tied to the only sports gambling operator have political connections
Washington, DC has wanted to get into sports gambling before other states in the area, such as Maryland, in order to establish itself as the regional leader and begin to capitalize on an expected revenue windfall. To facilitate the mission, local government officials had decided to bypass the mandatory bidding requirements for a sports gambling operator and chose to elect Intralot, which is already in place as the city’s lottery manager. However, this deal is beginning to have less appeal to many in DC, as it appears to show a certain amount of nepotism, favoring entities or individuals that have come under fire for not performing up to standards in the past.
Jeffrey S. DeWitt, DC’s chief financial officer, has presented a proposal that would lead the way to Intralot being given a five-year license for sports gambling operations. The proposal contains provisions to bring in seven subcontractors, many of which have had trouble in the past. For example, Emmanuel Bailey, who oversees the DC lottery, has been called out for possible ethical and legal violations. Even though he was never found guilty of any wrongdoing, his ethics are in question. Additionally, the law firm of Goldblatt, Martin and Pozen is listed as one of the subcontractors. The firm had been contracted previously by Bailey when sports gambling discussions first made their way to the DC Council.
Then there’s District Services Management. The company is run by individuals who previously led Life Deeds, a company that was given the boot by DC officials for mismanagement of homeless shelters and subsidized housing administration. If it wasn’t capable of handling those tasks, getting involved with the city’s sports gambling industry on an official level is questionable.
Mark Jones is a former deputy director of the DC Lottery, as well as a former Representative on the DC board of education. His political ties, especially for being located in the nation’s capital, extend far and wide, and his M. Jones Companies is going to be a subcontractor under Intralot.
How these companies and individuals were chosen by DeWitt isn’t known, but there almost definitely would have been more selections available, selections that didn’t have checkered pasts or political connections. The proposal still has to be approved by the DC Council but, given what has already transpired, there’s not much of a chance that councilmembers will deny the move.