Online Community Update on Handle 19 Protest

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A pedestrian walks by 319 Pennsylvania Ave SE. File: CCN/E.O'Gorek

Wondering what’s going on in the ongoing protest of the Pennsylvania Avenue sports book?

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B will host an online meeting with the ANC legal counsel to update the community on the state of the Handle 19 protest.

The company, Handle19, signed a lease in the spring to open a bar, restaurant and gambling facility at 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, the former Stanton & Greene, which has been empty since late 2018. The proprietor is Shane August, CEO of the Virginia Beach-based August Holding Corporation which owns Handle19.

Handle19 has applied to add Sports Wagering to the restaurant’s ABRA Class “C” Restaurant license. By law, the opinion of the ANC must be given “great weight” when it is considered by DC agencies such as the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), which issues licenses to sell liquor, or the DC Office of Lottery and Gaming, which regulates sports betting.

ANC 6B is protesting the liquor license application.

In addition to the ANC, two different groups of residents have declared themselves parties in opposition. At the December meeting of ANC 6B, one representative of a resident group cited statistics showing that a sportsbook would increase neighborhood crime. Commissioners argued that sports betting does not belong in a residential neighborhood and will increase both vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the area.

Sports Wagering License Denied

On Jan. 28, the Office of Lottery and Gaming issued an Executive Order denying the application for a sports wagering license, citing evidence from the background investigation that the applicant did not meet the requirements for licensure. An appeal is still possible.

The issue of the sports wagering license is separate from the liquor license.

The ANC authorized $14,000 for legal counsel in the case at a December 2020 ANC 6B executive meeting. Commissioners debated the merit of revisiting the allocation of that funding in both January and February. At the latter meeting, it was decided not to make any changes to avoid the impact of change on the protest process. Commissioners also cited the unique nature of the applying business, and the role of the case as precedent for future sports wagering applications in the bounds of the ANC.

ANC 6B filed a motion to dismiss the liquor license application on the basis that Handle 19 does not qualify as a restaurant based on the definition in DC Code. That motion was dismissed the day after the February meeting by the Alcohol Beverage Control Board, which said that the question could only be resolved at hearing. The protest hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 8, 2021.

In January, ABRA reviewed an application for a sports wagering license from the Ugly Mug (723 Eighth St. SE). That application concerned geo-fenced mobile apps for personal phones rather than physical kiosks.

When it is updated, you can see the full Feb 16 meeting agenda here. Find information to join below. Learn more about ANC 6B by visiting anc6b.org

Meeting link: https://dcnet.webex.com/dcnet/j.php?MTID=me50ae072d0e2ad4884b31afb03eaf745
Meeting number: 180 788 5211
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