DC Sports Betting Audit Calls For Major Changes, Lottery Shrugs

Posted on September 9, 2021
DC sports betting
Posted By on September 9, 2021

Surprise: Washington DC sports betting could benefit from better lines and more competition.

Those were the primary findings from the long-awaited Office of the District of Columbia Auditor (ODCA) report. The watchdog published its review of GambetDC on Thursday.

Its chief finding? 

“When compared to both the William Hill sportsbook in the District and to results in other states, GambetDC did not perform as well.”

The audit was required by the law that authorized DC sportsbooks, but has been delayed multiple times. The DC Council approved its lottery provider Intralot for a mobile app monopoly without any bidding process more than two years ago.

Just how badly is GambetDC doing?

Over nine months through March 2021, DC made just $444,000 in tax revenue from GambetDC.

In that time, Gambet delivered $4.4 million in NGR, with nearly $4 million of that going to monopoly provider Intralot. By comparison, over a five-month time period, the William Hill retail book at DC’s Capital One Arena did more than three times the revenue and tax contribution.

It was a similar story in other states. The DraftKingsrun operation in New Hampshire did roughly 10x Gambet revenues with around 2x the population.

States with open markets like Colorado and Illinois also saw vastly superior uptakes over similar timeframes:

Source: Report by the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor

How to improve DC sports betting

Auditor Kathleen Patterson offered six ways for OLG to improve the returns from DC sports betting:

  • Build out a GambetDC retail network
  • Grant licenses to additional private sportsbook operators
  • Increase the 10% tax rate on GGR
  • Renegotiate terms with Intralot to eliminate OLG’s obligation to pay for bonusing and advertising costs
  • Reduce vig to further incentivize betters to place bet
  • Improve the GambetDC app’s user experience and resolve technical issues

“Sports wagering in the District has the potential to generate revenue similar to that received by other states,” the report noted. “OLG should consider options reflected in this report.”

OLG responds to auditor with a shrug

Regardless of how sensible the suggestions seem, the Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG) had some pushback. On competition, it argued the market was already heating up, with BetMGM recently joining the market, and FanDuel on the way.

Of course, those books and William Hill can only take mobile bets within a two-block radius of their retail location.

The auditor did not suggest that private books should be able to to launch full mobile wagering. That is an option in the DC law. Regardless, OLG still cautioned against more operators.

“The cost of regulating far exceeds the licensing fees collected by license applicants,” OLG wrote. “OLG is using GambetDC revenue to make up the shortfall.”

Don’t hold your breath for better DC sports betting odds

OLG was also non-committal on reducing Gambet’s astronomical vig.

“OLG and [Intralot] continuously review payouts and will make adjustments as required in order to be competitive in the marketplace and to maximize revenue to the District.”

Given the lackluster returns so far, it is unclear exactly what would prompt more customer-friendly lines.

What about the poor product?

Elsewhere OLG said it was making “constant enhancements” to the products itself.

In short, it seems OLG is happy with Gambet’s returns and does not plan on changing much. That said, if the product continues to underperform as more competition enter the DMV market, OLG coud be forced to reconsider.

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Brad Allen

Brad has been covering the online gambling industry in Europe and the US for more than four years, most recently as the news editor at EGR Global.

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