DC Lottery Sports Betting Off to Slow Start, Report Says

DC Lottery Sports Betting Off to Slow Start, Report Says
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If the D.C. Lottery needs proof that its GambetDC sports betting platform is underperforming badly, it can look at its first two months.

WTOP, a news radio station in Washington, D.C., reported that bettors placed about $1.2 million in wagers between May 30 and Aug. 3. It resulted in about $237,000 in revenue for the district, the report said. By any stretch, that’s a paltry amount to be bet in a city with a population of more than 700,000.

RELATED: More on Washington D.C. sports betting and gaming

The D.C. Lottery did not immediately respond to an email seeking confirmation of the figures reported by WTOP.

But there is good news for D.C. sports bettors — they now have another option to place bets. The William Hill sportsbook at Capital One Arena — home to the NBA’s Wizards, WNBA's Mystics and NHL’s Capitals — opened July 31. It’s the first sportsbook in a U.S. professional sports venue.

William Hill did not provide figures for its first week in D.C., but a spokesperson said the company is "very pleased" with how business is going.

And more options could be on the way in in the nation's capital. The “Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018” also authorized private operators, like William Hill, to offer sportsbooks at licensed locations, including major sports arenas and at some bars and restaurants. The Washington Nationals and D.C. United could offer sports betting through a sportsbook.

Surrounding states could offer sports betting soon. Virginia has legalized it and is working through regulations. It could be up and running by the end of the year or early next year. Maryland will ask voters in November to approve sports betting.

A Bad Start For DC Sports Betting

Since it was legalized in December 2018, sports betting in D.C. has been delayed by controversy and lawsuits. Leaders had originally planned it to be in place for the 2019 NFL season, but that came and went. And when the lottery had planned to launch by the end of March, the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The lottery eventually went live with the GambetDC website at the end of May and followed with iOS and Android apps later in June.

Since it has been up and running, the GambetDC platform, powered by Intralot, has been criticized on social media and in news reports for its odds. In NFL odds for Week 1, many games list the line at -118 for both teams. Most legal sportsbooks set the standard at -110 on point-spread bets.

For example, if you look at William Hill’s odds for Week 1 of the NFL season, most are set at -110.

Intralot, which received a no-bid contract from the city council to operate sports betting, has faced scrutiny for its odds before, most recently in Montana, which posts similar odds as D.C. offers. Sports Bet Montana is also run by the lottery.

DC Has Time to Get It Right

To be fair, D.C. has had to deal with strict coronavirus restrictions and the lottery has not rolled out the marketing campaign it originally planned when GambetDC launched.

The City Council is supposed to receive an audit in the spring that updates how the sports-betting operation of GambetDC and Intralot is performing, according to the WTOP report. The council could look to make changes based on the audit.

It’s not only important from a consumer standpoint, but net profit from GambetDC goes to the District’s General Fund to support public programs, services and initiatives, the D.C. Lottery website says.

But having Intralot as its single-vendor, lottery-led option will only bring more scrutiny to the D.C. Lottery, as it has in Montana.

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