A Physical Sportsbook Is Still Embarrassing A Sports Betting App In DC

Posted on December 16, 2020

What many see as a missed opportunity for Washington DC sports betting is what the DC Lottery calls business as expected.

William Hill’s temporary sportsbook at the Capital One Arena took $13.7 million in bets last month to maintain a dominant position in the market.  The book reported $2.7 million in sports betting revenue, good for a 19.9% hold.

That’s 3.5 times higher than the $3.9 million in handle the DC Lottery’s Intralot-powered platform, GambetDC, took for the month. Gambet had $882,678 in revenue for a 22.7% hold.

Total Washington DC sports betting handle since its launch at the end of May is just $63.8 million. That’s an underwhelming amount of handle for a market three months through the NFL season with a mobile betting component.

DC Lottery happy with sports betting returns

Last month, a spokesperson for the DC Lottery told LSR sports betting progressed “as expected” in the nation’s capital during October. The Lottery had a similar tone on November:

“GambetDC aims to maximize revenues for the District while still providing competitive pricing and entertainment value for our target market – sports enthusiasts, casual bettors, lottery players, and fantasy sports players who reside here or commute into the city,” the spokesperson said. “We are happy with its growth and expect this trend to continue.”

William Hill paid $272,852 in taxes on last month’s revenue bringing its total tax revenue in DC to $817,870 so far.

GambetDC’s financial breakdown is not explicitly clear, but the spokesperson said about 50% of revenue amounts to profit for the Lottery. That means Gambet turned a ~$440,000 profit in November and has returned about $1.3 million in profit since launch.

Only time will tell if that continues. More private operators will eventually launch, which should lead to higher monthly tax revenue than GambetDC’s profit.

“Private sports wagering operators are an additional revenue source for District, and we expect to see additional outlets soon,” the spokesperson said. “Two Class A Operators are in the process of completing their applications. Currently, there are two Class B applications under review and there are several others in progress. ”

Is DC Lottery really maximizing revenue returned?

The Lottery’s statement that it’s “providing competitive pricing” could be a bit biased.

A quick glance at GambetDC’s lines show the company is still offering -118 sides on many of its markets it launched with into Montana in March. Most other legal US sportsbooks offer traditional -110 lines.

Cutting that extra vig could entice more bettors to pay extra on their bets for the convenience of mobile betting. The alternative sometimes includes lines that wrap around the block to bet with William Hill.

There’s been no attempt to change the business model, though. That means no public data that shows gouging bettors really is maximizing returns.

GambetDC share growing, but slowly

The DC Lottery’s sportsbook might not be flourishing, but it is growing.

GambetDC took 22.5% of handle in November, up from 22.1% in October. It had a 24.4% share of sports betting revenue compared to 23.2% in October.

Total bets are much more evenly split than handle. GambetDC took 46.6% of the 243,406 bets in November, up from 43.9% of the 258,289 bets in October.

More DC sports betting competition starting next month

GambetDC could have cemented itself as the mobile betting platform of choice for local sports bettors with no competition for half a year.

Soon, those bettors could have a dozen more mobile options with even more likely coming later in 2021.

Sports betting in Virginia should launch in January in time for sportsbooks to launch and accept Super Bowl bets. The Virginia Lottery has 25 applicants but will only license about half of those.

That will provide plenty of competition for GambetDC – and potentially William Hill’s retail business too – for those bettors near southern DC.

Meanwhile, to the north, Maryland sports betting should launch next year as long as legislators can agree on a bill. Voters approved sports betting through a yes/no referendum in November‘s election.

Photo by Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press
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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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