DC Sports Betting At Retail Sportsbooks Delayed To 2021

DC Sports Betting At Retail Sportsbooks Delayed To 2021
© USA Today

Washington, D.C., sports betting has been plagued by delay after delay. So it’s no surprise that retail sportsbooks in the District won’t be operational until 2021.

Even though the GambetDC website platform finally went active in late May, sports betting at retail sites — targeted for the fall 2020 — won’t begin until 2021, according to a report in the Washington Business Journal.

RELATED: More on Washington, D.C. Gambling & Legislation

D.C Lottery Executive Director Beth Bresnahan told a budget oversight hearing before the City Council’s committee on business and economic development last week that retail sports betting has been pushed back by the pandemic, the business journal reported.

”Rollout of the retail network component of GambetDC, which was initially slated for this fall, has been pushed to summer of 2021. The pandemic has presented physical, operational and some personal challenges upon the lottery and upon our small business retailer partners across the city,” Bresnahan said at the June 3 oversight hearing, according to the Washington Business Journal report.

Delays, Problems with Lottery-Run Sports Betting

GambetDC, the sports betting platform for the D.C. Lottery, had hoped to launch in time for the 2019 NFL season. But it was delayed by a lawsuit over the bidding process and then by the coronavirus in March.

Even though the coronavirus hit in mid-March, the lottery said it was still planning to launch by the end of that month. Because there were no sports to bet on, the lottery pushed the start back again. It finally went live on May 28. Even when the website went live, the apps for mobile sports betting were delayed.

Almost immediately after it went live, some of the odds by the lottery’s provider, Intralot, were questioned on social media and in published reports, including the Washington Post.

For example, the odds for Week 1 of the NFL shows -118 for both teams in many cases and some even worse. At legal sportsbooks, the standard point-bet spread is -110. Nearly all of the NFL Week 1 games on DraftKings and others start there.

State lotteries in Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island and New Hampshire operate sports betting. Because those states use one provider, they have also run into problems with odds, geofencing and registration restrictions. Geofencing in the nation’s capital has proven to be a challenge, according to a story in The Post.

Sportsbooks Can Bring Options

In D.C., the retail sportsbooks should provide options. A William Hill sportsbook is planned for Capital One Arena, home to the NHL’s Capitals and NBA’s Wizards, as planned. The Coridish Cos., an gaming and casino operator based in Maryland, has teamed with FanDuel for a D.C. sportsbook.

The Washington Business Journal report says seven sportsbooks have submitted applications to the D.C. Lottery as operators/suppliers as of June 5. One Class B application has been filed. Class B operators are bars/restaurants two blocks outside of Capital One Arena, Audi Field, Nats Park and the Entertainment and Sports Arena, which are designated Class A operators, the report said.

Neighboring states Maryland and Virginia could also have sports betting by early 2021. Sports betting has been approved by Virginia and it will be a referendum question on the November ballot in Maryland.

It’s possible that both states could be up and running in 2021 before the retail sportsbooks in D.C., based on the lottery’s history of delays.

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