Sports betting is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, and now the nation’s capital is officially on board. The DC Lottery rolled out its sports betting platform on Thursday, though there aren’t many sports currently taking place in the country.
GamBetDC is the official name of the sports betting platform in DC, and there has been plenty of controversy surrounding the rollout of this new website. Officials of the sports betting industry in DC are aware that launching GamBetDC at this time seems unconventional, but a soft roll out will give the site a chance to fix any issues.
There was hope that GamBetDC would also launch its mobile app at the same time as the online site, but that isn’t the case. DC will also be home to several different retail sports betting sites, but all of those locations are still being reviewed.
William Hill sportsbook is one of the major companies set to enter the new market, as they will be operating a sportsbook inside of Capital One Arena. Lawmakers were sure to include major sports arenas as locations that could apply for a sports betting license.
The DC Lottery announced that the mobile app should be available at some point in early June, but they were willing to accept bets on the website for now. It has taken the DC Lottery much longer than expected to launch sports betting, and the coronavirus pandemic further complicated these issues.
Initially, the DC Lottery was planning to launch the website and mobile app last September, giving bettors a chance to bet on the upcoming NFL season. When that date was missed, the Lottery announced that it would be up and running in March, in time for wagers to be placed on March Madness.
There are some interesting rules regarding where a sports bettor can access the website or mobile app. Bettors must be within city limits, but they cannot be inside federal enclaves. Bettors must also be more than two blocks away from any sports stadium, which makes things extremely difficult and confusing.
There was also some major controversy that took place throughout the entire process, and the operator that the DC Lottery chose was one of the biggest complaints. DC gave the operating license to Intralot, in a no-bid situation, which sparked outrage from lobbyists who felt that there should have been a bidding process.
When the DC Lottery awarded their initial contract to IntraLot back in 2009, there were severe criticisms placed. That deal was ultimately investigated by the grand jury for corruption, but no official charges were filed.
IntraLot looked for a local partner to help with the launch of sports betting, and they chose Veteran Services. Veteran Services’ CEO is Emmanuel Bailey, and he is the only employee of the business besides his mother.
The Washington Post found out that Bailey has ties to former DC Council members, and opponents felt that this was the reason for the no-bid contract. An injunction was filed to stop this deal from being completed, which was part of the reason that DC was forced to delay the launch of sports betting.
Sports betting industry leaders also raised some flags regarding IntraLot and the prices that they charge their customers. Intralot charges much higher prices than other sports betting operators throughout the country, which is unfair to bettors.
DC lawmakers were sold on this plan from Intralot in an effort to bring back more revenue from the new industry. It is unclear if Intralot will change its prices when other companies such as William Hill enter the market.