DC February Sports Betting Figures Show Lottery App Struggles

DC February Sports Betting Figures Show Lottery App Struggles
© USA Today

After the District of Columbia’s online sports wagering app enjoyed the best month ever in terms of handle in January, February saw a bit of a reality check, joining other jurisdictions which also saw decreases.

February’s combined retail and online sports betting handle in D.C. was $15.3 million, down 2.8% from $15.7 million in January.

GambetDC, the DC Lottery’s sports app that is operated in association with Intralot and is the only mobile sports betting app that can reach the entire city, had a handle of $4.16 million in February, down $1.02 million from January, leading to $600,305 in revenue, the lottery website posted this week. Intralot has been criticized for its suspect odds and other issues in D.C. and in Montana.

But William Hill, which has the first sportsbook located within a major U.S. pro sports venue, showed a modest handle increase $11.14 million (up $578,177 from January) and revenue of $732,714, down 61.3% from January’s ($1.9 million), according to figures for William Hill on the DC Lottery website. In addition to the retail book inside the building, the company also has a limited-range mobile app that can be used within a two-block radius around the arena.

William Hill’s retail operation is at the Capital One Arena, home to the NBA Wizards and NHL Capitals.

Retail vs. Mobile in DC

The difference between online and retail sports wagering in D.C. is unusual. In most jurisdictions with retail and online sports betting, online wagering outdistances retail by a huge margin. But since the D.C. Lottery’s sports app went live in October 2020, online wagering has trailed the mostly retail business at William Hill substantially. Early complaints about the lottery app included that poor odds were offered bettors.

“We have metrics that we use to measure the popularity and growth of the site and have advertising that we do to promote the site and we are looking at the number of registrants and the number of people that make deposits into the site. We are a new brand. Brands like William Hill are well established,” Office of Lottery and Gaming interim executive director Ridgely Bennett last week during a hearing of the D.C. City Council’s Committee on Business and Economic Development. “We have to present this new brand of players with promotions to attract new players.”

During the March 10 hearing, lottery officials said it has revised its revenue projections for future years. It fell far short of fiscal 2020 projections and officials said the coronavirus pandemic and few commuters in the district were two reasons for the drop.

More Options, New Lottering Offering Expected

On Jan. 11, the Washington Nationals announced a deal with BetMGM to be the team’s official sports betting partner. The Nationals will open a BetMGM Sportsbook connected to Nationals Park (the first in-stadium BetMGM sportsbook) and the launch of its mobile app within a permitted area around the park. It has the same limit as the William Hill app outside of Capital One Arena.

BetMGM is going through the licensing process and the sportsbook opening should be before August. The Nationals have 12 home games in both July and August.

FanDuel announced in late October that it will open a retail sportsbook at Audi Field, home of Major League Soccer’s D.C. United, as part of a multiyear partnership with the team. FanDuel and the team hope to open the sportsbook in 2021.

GambetDC and Simplebet introduced real-money, fully automated betting during the NFL Wild-Card Weekend on Jan 8-9. It allowed bettors to wager on individual drives during the NFL games and also allowed traditional bets. There are plans to expand the offering to NBA and MLB games.

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