Can Retail DC Sports Betting Kiosks Help Struggling GambetDC?

Posted on July 30, 2021
DC sports betting
Posted By on July 30, 2021

Despite all its advantages, GambetDC has made itself the underdog in DC sports betting for nearly a year.

The DC Lottery hopes that changes with the rollout of retail betting kiosks to four bars. Those kiosks went live Friday night and are the beginning of the rollout process, according to the Office of Lottery and Gaming‘s Director of Marketing and Communications Nicole Jordan.

There will be a steady onboarding of additional retailers with the GambetDC kiosks, Jordan said. The rollout will begin with social settings like bars, restaurants and other venues before focusing on Lottery locations. There will be two to three kiosks on average in each spot to start.

Whether the kiosks and ability to bet with cash throughout the District shake up the DC sports betting market is still up in the air.

Others coming to DC sports betting retail market

Since last July, the only way to bet in-person in the District of Columbia has been through William Hill at Capital One Arena. That started in a temporary sportsbook that generated lines around the corner before the permanent space opened earlier this year.

Now GambetDC joins the party, but it will not be a two-company retail show for long. Class B operators – those sports bars that choose not to place GambetDC kiosks in their businesses but partner with another sportsbook – are getting ready for launches soon too.

Elys Game Technologies wants to launch for NFL betting season, which starts next month but picks up in earnest in September. The tech operator partnered with Grand Central restaurant and is ready to put its latest acquisition, US Bookmaking, to work.

Elys might be a relatively unknown name in the US but is successful in Italy. The team behind US Bookmaking, though, gives the company recognition in the US sports betting space.

Homegrown partnership ready for eats and bets

Others, however, are opting for a different tactic.

Not every sports bar is building out a massive sportsbook to try to compete with the book at Capital One. There will be at least two more as well with books at Nationals Park through BetMGM and Audi Field through FanDuel Sportsbook still to launch.

Some are focusing more on the social experience with a little betting on the side. DC locals Ben Sislen of ExPat Hospitality and Nick Kennedy of SWX Technologies hope to make that model a success.

SWX has a standard sportsbook product as well that will launch first. Sislen knows cuisine and restaurant operations and has two spots in the works right now. One of those locations includes an 8,500 square foot space and sits in the Western Market.

Where is DC sports betting audit?

While the expansion of retail betting marks the next step for sports betting in DC, it still is unclear if the mobile part is making as much money for the District as it could.

GambetDC’s decision to let inexperienced Intralot run the sportsbook with higher juice than others has led to pretty dismal results. The app had 17.6% of handle share in June despite its availability throughout most of the District. William Hill, which is geofenced to a two-block radius around Capital One Arena, took 80.4% of the bets in June.

Those figures, along with decreased profit estimates for GambetDC, suggest the market could do better with more access to commercial operators, which is allowed. The sports betting law allows commercial operators the same District-wide access as GambetDC. It even benefits the District to allow that as sportsbooks would double their taxes to 20% of sports betting revenue.

The Office of the DC Auditor was supposed to have a report ready in May that analyzed the market. The office did not know about the requirement, though, and got a late jump on the project.

The first expected completion date was the end of July, though that’s been pushed back a few weeks, according to a spokesperson:

“The report is going through our internal quality control review cycle so it will be a few more weeks. We’re hoping for mid-August.”

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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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