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BETTING

Washington DC Mobile Sports Betting May Be Getting a New Look

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Washington Commanders fans cheer during their game against the Arizona Cardinals. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images/AFP

Washington DC’s sports betting mobile app has been plagued by problems ranging from technical glitches to routinely dealing unfavorable odds. However, the possibility of shifting to a private platform is being explored and just may be the cure that ails the underperforming DC sports betting industry.

Reinventing the Wheel

The blueprint is out there for anyone who cares to look. Thirty-eight US states have successfully launched mobile sports betting using private sports betting platforms like DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars, governed by their respective state regulatory bodies. Of course, the number of licenses available varies along with the tax rate and licensing fees, minimum age limits, and rules regarding betting on college sports, among other things.

But the framework has been repeatedly duplicated because it works. Yet, who else but the lawmakers in Washington DC would decide to go their own way and do things differently? It started with developing its own sports betting app, GambetDC, and giving a five-year, no-bid contract to Intralot, a Greek gaming company.

Plenty of Complaints

And the end may be coming in July when the contract expires as the product has been underwhelming, to say the least. GambetDC has been riddled with problems and customers are not shy about expressing their frustration.

Below is a recent review left by Michael B.

“I don’t usually leave reviews but I’m leaving one just to let people know to avoid this app. The UI is clunky and glitchy, withdrawing your winnings is a hassle, and Intralot notoriously has the worst betting odds of any sportsbook in America. If you really need to gamble on sports, drive to Maryland or Virginia and place your bets. The app is bad enough that the round trip is worth it.”

New Perspective

At a recent D.C. Council hearing, it was revealed the Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG) is contemplating switching to an operator more acquainted with the U.S. market and one with a proven mobile application. GambetDC was projected to generate $20 million annually but instead reported a $4 million loss in its first full year.

As one anonymous industry insider said, “Frankly, it’s been a s**tshow from the word go, there.”

“In our best estimate, we believe that the current mobile offering in the District has the market penetration of 1-2% of eligible adults… That means consumers are either traveling out of the District to place a wager, or worse yet, they’re placing wagers in an illegal offshore market,” Brandt Iden, Fanatics Sportsbook’s vice president of government affairs, told the council earlier this month.

What to Expect

There is a debate as to whether the District should remain with one operator or open it up to several. Conventional wisdom suggests the latter but there appears to be little wisdom in Washington. Who knew?

Nevertheless, the debate is expected to be settled sooner rather than later and Intralot will likely be on the outside looking in when the decision is made. However, we’ve learned never to take anything for granted in Washington DC, including following the lead of 38 other states currently operating successful sports betting operations and enjoying the financial fruits of that labor.

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