DC Sports Betting
DC sports betting is live. In fact, there are four different ways that can book your action, albeit via different methods, while in Washington, DC.
GambetDC, the sportsbook wing of the DC Lottery, is available district-wide. However, GambetDC and its app have been plagued by many problems since its introduction. Thankfully, you can find other options with Caesars Sportsbook and BetMGM within certain areas of the city. The apps come equipped with weekly promotions and welcome bonuses. There is retail betting available at some locally owned establishments as well.
Washington DC’s involvement with sports betting has been unique and imperfect. There is a reason, after all, that it is the only place where a retail sportsbook and online betting within a two-block radius continues to outperform and the only mobile sportsbook available citywide. Here’s everything that’s happening with sports betting in DC.
Top sports betting apps in DC 2023
What’s happening in DC sports betting right now
- June 6, 2023 – DC sports betting handle reached $14 million in April, about a $4 million drop from March. Revenue was also down about 37% to $1.4 million.
- May 19, 2023 – The DC Council voted to preliminarily approve the 2024 fiscal budget, which removes an annual $200,000 set-aside for problem gambling issues.
- April 30, 2023 – DC sports betting handle hit $18 million in March, a 23% increase month-over-month, but a drop of about $2 million from March 2022. Revenue was $2.27 million, a 90% increase from February.
- April 21, 2023 – Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney was suspended for at least the 2023 season for violating NFL betting policy. Toney was one of five NFL players suspended for violating the league’s gambling rules.
- April 5, 2023 – While $600,000 in sports betting taxes had been set aside to fund problem gambling initiatives in Washington DC, none of the money has been utilized through three years of legalized sports betting.
- March 15, 2023 – Sports betting handle for GambetDC online betting, along with more than 60 locations with in-person kiosks in the DC area has grown for 11 straight months.
- February 10, 2023 – The GambetDC sportsbook took $6.4 million in handle in January while the commercial operators in the district took $12.2 million in bets. Both numbers were down slightly from December but up from January 2022.
Washington DC sportsbook apps
The specific restrictions and limitations designated by DC sports betting law have made entrance into the market a tricky proposition for most. The maximum number of sportsbook apps that can possibly set up shop in our nation’s capital is five.
At present, there are only three active online sportsbooks offering the top sports betting promotions in the district. A fourth does have an application on file with the DC Lottery, but there is no timeline for its approval and/or a launch for the company. The license allotted to the Washington Mystics and St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena remains unclaimed at this time. So, here are the options for sportsbook apps in Washington DC.
Caesars by William Hill
Caesars by William Hill Sportsbook is one of two privately owned sportsbook apps in Washington, DC. Caesars operates in DC through a partnership with the ownership group for Capital One Arena, Monumental Sports and Entertainment. Caesars operates a land-based sportsbook at the arena itself along with its app to visitors within two blocks of the facility. Bettors can take part in a solid app with a depth of experience and options, including some of the more interesting wagers and markets.
BetMGM Sportsbook operates in Washington, DC through a partnership with the Washington Nationals. As such, its home base in the district is Nationals Park, where a retail book opened for the 2022 season. You also can sample BetMGM’s innovative sportsbook app if you are within a few blocks of Nationals Park. One of the biggest differences you’ll notice about this app is the flexibility you have on open bets. The Edit My Bet feature takes the Cash Out option and expands it to allow for swapping of portions of the wager, changing the bet amount, or, in some cases, canceling part of the bet.
FanDuel (coming soon)
The DFS pioneer has an application on file with the DC Lottery and already established a partnership with DC United, the MLS team that calls Audi Field its home. Thus, a FanDuel Sportsbook would necessarily be located at Audi Field, and its online app would be available nearby. Bettors who visit FanDuel will find one of the smoothest and easiest navigation experiences in sports betting, and you can even watch select games live through the app in order to keep tabs on your open wagers or place new in-play ones.
GambetDC is the sportsbook app owned and operated by the DC Lottery itself. It is the only sportsbook available throughout the entire district. However, its design and operation have been the subject of tremendous disparagement and frustration for both its ownership and the public. DC Lottery provider Intralot won a no-bid contract to provide the app’s platform and operations after a process that draws claims of corruption, bribery, and cronyism to this day. GambetDC’s overpriced payout odds continue to lead to reduced returns. The app lags far behind others despite the latter’s geographic restriction.
Legal sports betting basics in DC
There are three online sportsbook apps and three retail sportsbooks active in the city. One of the apps has no physical location except for kiosks, and one of the retail books has no app but is planning to have one that only works while you’re in the same building as the retail book.
If that’s confusing, let’s break it down a bit more explicitly.
First, let’s discuss how online sports betting works in DC. According to district law, GambetDC is the only app permitted to offer betting options from anywhere in Washington. From Marbury Point to the North Corner Boundary Stone, GambetDC is available to anyone over the age of 18 with an internet-connected device.
The other two online sportsbooks in DC are Caesars by William Hill and BetMGM Sportsbook. While both sportsbooks are the market leaders, they are restricted to specific zones within the district. So, Caesars is available if you are in the vicinity of Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, and BetMGM is playable if you are near Nationals Park, the Washington Nationals’ field. Otherwise, your only option is GambetDC.
Both Caesars and BetMGM maintain retail sportsbooks at these two locations too. These two locations and their resident sports teams are among four permitted to seek Class A sports betting licenses under DC sports betting law.
How to bet on sports in Washington, DC
If you live in or plan to visit Washington, DC and would like to try out one of the district’s sportsbook apps, here’s what you need to do to get started.
- Download and install. The best way to download a DC sportsbook app is to click through the links above so that you can take advantage of bonus offers. Make sure to note any bonus codes, then proceed to the app download page itself.
- Register for an account. The registration screen(s) will ask you for various pieces of personal information, like your legal name, email address, Social Security number, and date of birth. Make sure to enter any bonus codes accurately and exactly, as they are both case-sensitive and typo-sensitive.
- Fund your account. Every sportsbook offers several different options for putting money online, including e-checks, PayPal, credit cards, and prepaid cards, among other methods. Choose the one that works best for your personal situation.
- Head to the correct zone, if necessary.
Once your account is verified and funded, it’s time to play. If you have chosen to use GambetDC, then you can get started right away. If you want to use one of the other apps, then make sure that you are in the appropriate area of the city. Be ready to verify your location through the app’s geolocation verification prompts, regardless of the sportsbook you choose to visit. Otherwise, you’ll be restricted from placing your wager.
DC sports betting law
The format of the sports betting law in Washington, DC is like no other in the US. The lack of gambling locations within the district presented a particular issue for its council to resolve. Councilmembers also endeavored to produce a system that would protect the city’s market access (via the DC Lottery) from outside competition as much as possible.
The DC Lottery acts as both the regulator for the industry and the only provider permitted to offer online sports betting citywide. The lottery’s sportsbook app is GambetDC, which continues to struggle due to its noncompetitive payout odds.
Other online sportsbooks are strictly limited to areas directly around their physical locations. The law defines these areas as Entertainment Sports Gambling Restriction Zones. This map outlines exactly where they are allowed to be active, but essentially, they must restrict themselves to a two-block radius around their partners’ stadiums inside the district. With the exception of the overlap zone between Audi Field and Nationals Park, where you could potentially access three different sportsbook apps, the maximum number of apps that you can use in DC at any one time is two. For the most part, your only option is GambetDC.
These geographic restrictions are part of the parameters found in one class of DC sports betting licenses permitted under the law. This class — Class A — renders four major sports venues eligible to host sports betting on their premises and partner with qualified companies to offer branded apps within their designated “entertainment zones.” The four eligible stadiums are:
- Audi Field (Home of DC United)
- Capital One Arena (Home of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals)
- St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena (Home of the Washington Mystics)
- Nationals Park (Home of the Washington Nationals)
You can find Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill at Capital One Arena. BetMGM is available online within its zone. DC United and Audi Field have a partnership in place with FanDuel, so it’s likely only a matter of time before FanDuel Sportsbook joins the group in the national capital.
The law also calls for the issuance of Class B licenses to bars, restaurants, and taverns throughout the district. A Class B license comes with a lower fee, but also restricts online sports betting services to the premises of the establishment. There have been several applications for this type of license so far from various ownership groups, but only one of them has followed all the way through and opened an onsite sportsbook. Thus, the only Class B establishment at this time is the Grand Central Restaurant, Bar, and Sportsbook on 14th Street NW. Only one other applicant — the ownership of the Cloakroom Gentleman’s Club on K Street NW — has an active submission under review to the DC Lottery at the time of this writing.
Sportsbooks in the district pay 10% of their hold to the district each month. There is no distinction between online and retail revenues, either.
DC sports betting restrictions
DC sports betting law is rather prohibitive when it comes to amateur and collegiate sporting events. The law restricts bettors from placing bets on colleges that are located within the city limits of Washington, DC, or collegiate events that occur inside the district. There are also prohibitions in place for events that involve a majority of participants under the age of 18, such as the Olympics.
How DC sports betting compares to Virginia and Maryland
Washington, DC does not offer sports betting in a vacuum. The two states surrounding the district, Maryland and Virginia, either have wagering on sporting events underway or will have legal sports betting soon. Let’s take a look at how DC sports betting stacks up to sports betting happening nearby.
Market eligibility and openness
In terms of which types of businesses are granted permission to offer sports betting, DC and Virginia are somewhat similar in that they give priority to the professional sports teams that reside within their borders. This priority stems from the fact that neither DC nor Virginia had much in the way of dedicated gambling locations when they launched sports betting.
Maryland, on the other hand, is home to six casinos and an active jockey club that owns two prominent horse racing facilities. Maryland also has several pro sports teams itself and has allotments for them, too. Virginia will have casino locations in the near future, however, and each location will also have a sports betting license to use. Both DC and Maryland have provisions for non-gambling establishments to operate sportsbooks onsite, but DC stands alone in its lack of caps for those licenses. In theory, there could be thousands of DC sportsbooks under the law.
However, DC’s focus on retail sports betting stands in stark contrast to Virginia’s online-only approach and the 60 mobile sports betting licenses permitted by Maryland law. Online sports betting has proven to be far more popular in recent years elsewhere, with some states reporting that nearly 99% of their wagers occur through mobile apps despite the presence of multiple land-based options.
Where many variations occur is in whether legislators and regulators seek to extend prohibitions to collegiate events.
Both DC and Virginia do not permit betting on colleges and universities located inside their city limits or state lines, respectively. The location of the game is irrelevant. If it involves one of the native collegiate teams, it is off-limits. DC takes the prohibition a step farther by banning wagers on collegiate events inside the district, regardless of the participants. Virginia has no such restriction on games inside state lines, but does not permit live betting on collegiate games whatsoever, no matter which teams are involved.
Maryland does not have any such restrictions written into its sports betting law. The Old Line State opened the doors on retail sports betting, and you are able to bet on the University of Maryland, the United States Naval Academy, or any other homegrown college team that you like.
First and foremost, Washington is always going to be the smallest of the three. Even at its peak during the workweek, DC contains roughly 1 million people. By contrast, Virginia hosts roughly 8.6 million residents and Maryland is home to just over 6 million.
Unfortunately, the disparity between the district and the surrounding states is also exacerbated by DC’s law and industry structure. Its emphasis on retail sports betting and its ceding of online betting to GambetDC hobbles sports betting in the nation’s capital.
Once online Maryland launches sports betting, it will command a sizable chunk of handle and hold for itself. Assuming that the debut goes smoothly, Maryland should reside in a comfortable position for industry size in the region, and see results closer to Virginia.
Tax structure and fees
On paper, Washington, DC sportsbooks enjoy the lowest tax rate between the district and its two neighboring states. Non-lottery books in the nation’s capital need only send 10% of their gross gaming revenue to the city government as tax. However, although both Virginia and Maryland have the same 15% rate in place, Virginia’s tax rate is nominal only. Virginia sports betting law allows its sportsbooks to deduct expenses incurred in their customer acquisition efforts. So, the effective tax rate in Old Dominion is much lower than the rate in either DC or Maryland. Virginia sportsbooks usually end up paying just over 2% in taxes to officials in Richmond.
The simplest fee structure for the three areas is in Virginia. Each operator must pay $250,000 for a three-year license in Old Dominion and $200,000 to renew their license. In addition, Virginia sportsbooks must pay $50,000 for employees deemed “principals,” which are people who either hold a 5% interest in the sportsbook or are the CEO of the sportsbook. According to some reports, this additional fee has the potential to add an extra $1 million in fees. However, there is only one class of license in Virginia, so there is no graduated fee structure in place.
In DC, Class A licensees must pay $500,000 for their initial licenses unless they can qualify under one of three categories that give consideration to small business owners or otherwise disadvantaged proprietors. Operators in those categories only have to pay $150,000 for their licenses. In either case, the license is active for five years and is subject to a $250,000 renewal fee. Class B licenses have the same term as Class A and have the same consideration in place for those special classes. However, their license fees are $100,000 and $25,000, respectively, and are subject to a $50,000 renewal.
Finally, Maryland has three classes of license, but subdivides the two retail classes into two additional subsets. In addition to the prescribed fees, Maryland sportsbooks must also put up a license bond to insure its business is on the up-and-up. Without going into too much detail about the classes of license, here are the associated fees for each license type:
- Class A – 1: $2 million application fee; $6 million bond
- Class A – 2: $1 million application fee; $3 million bond
- Class B – 1: $250,000 application fee; $750,000 bond
- Class B – 2: $50,000 application fee; $75,000 bond
- Mobile: $500,000 application fee; $1.5 million bond
Where to bet on sports in DC
DC sports betting law lays out two classes of licenses. The first class — Class A -— is designated for four distinct sports venues located within the city limits. The second class — Class B — has a much broader reach and is available for any type of business in the district, so long as it is not simply a sportsbook. Naturally, bars and restaurants are good possibilities for sports betting.
In practice, there haven’t been nearly as many locations approved for service. Not every Class A location has a sportsbook yet, and there is only one Class B location in operation. Furthermore, there are only a couple of open applications on file with the DC Lottery. So the list of places you can bet in DC is shorter than you might expect. Nevertheless, here is a list of all the venues that either have sportsbooks in operation or could have them up and running soon in Washington, DC:
- Audi Field — Not open yet. FanDuel Sportsbook has an application on file with the DC Lottery and a partnership with DC United. When and if the application is approved, FanDuel will place a retail sportsbook onsite at Audi Field and will launch its app within the designated area.
- Capital One Arena — Open. Caesars by William Hill Sportsbook opened its doors in May 2021. The onsite sportsbook is 18,000 square-feet, and contains 17 betting windows, and 12 betting kiosks. Although every day does not feature a Wizards or Capitals game, the book is accessible every day through the entrance on F Street.
- Cloakroom Gentlemen’s Club — Not open yet. Cloakroom has an application on file for a Class B license to offer onsite sports betting to its patrons. There is no word on an approval date for the request, but the application process remains active and ongoing for the club.
- Grand Central Restaurant, Bar, & Sportsbook — Open. Grand Central became the first Class B licensee to open for business in the district when it cut the ribbon in October 2021. Since the sportsbook’s operations are restricted to the premises of the restaurant, its footprint is quite a bit smaller than a commercial sportsbook. In partnership with Elys Game Technologies, the restaurant has two kiosks and a staffed teller window onsite for betting between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 a.m.
- Nationals Park — Open. While BetMGM did launch its online app for DC residents back in June 2021, the physical sportsbook did not open Nationals Park until 2022.
Most popular sports to bet on in DC
Even though the district has a fairly small geographic footprint, there are plenty of big-name sports teams that call Washington, DC home. Here are some of the most popular sports and teams to bet in our nation’s capital.
- Washington Football Team (NFL): FedEx Field, 1600 Fedex Way, Greater Landover, MD 20785
- Washington Wizards (NBA): Capital One Arena, 601 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004
- Washington Nationals (MLB): Nationals Park, 1500 S Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003
- Washington Capitals (NHL): Capital One Arena, 601 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004
- DC United (MLS): Audi Field, 100 Potomac Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024
Colleges and universities
Washington, DC is home to several prominent universities and institutions of higher learning. Four different DC-based schools — Georgetown, George Washington, Howard, and American — play at least one sport in the NCAA’s Division I. However, because of the prohibitions on collegiate wagering in the district, you will need to visit sportsbooks in Virginia or Maryland if you want to bet on one of these colleges.
Legal betting options in Washington, DC in 2023
To legally bet on sports online in DC, you must be 18 or older and use one of the apps listed above. Any other site you find that accepts players from DC but is not listed here is not a legal online sports betting option. Illegal sites are based offshore and come with several risks, not the least of which are safety and security.
There are no casinos in the District so all wagering must take place either via an online sportsbook or a licensed retail location.
Washington, DC sports betting timeline
DC sports betting continues to grow in 2021. A third online sportsbook, BetMGM, opens its virtual doors for business in June 2021, and puts extra heat on the market — particularly with regards to GambetDC.
GambetDC remains steadfastly committed to its questionable pricing and practices, even in the face of an independent audit suggesting major changes are in order. Its only effort to arrest its poor performance comes in the form of kiosks that the DC Lottery places at four restaurants around the district.
Meanwhile, Grand Central Restaurant & Bar becomes the first Class B licensee to open an onsite sportsbook in DC when it debuts its betting window and kiosks in October 2021.
GambetDC becomes the first legal sportsbook of any kind in Washington, DC when it launches in May 2020. Planners were hoping to launch the site two months prior, but a persistent dearth of sporting events due to the pandemic — including the cancellation of March Madness 2020 — made the debut untenable. Almost immediately, observers note that GambetDC’s advertised lines are high — to the point of being noncompetitive.
Thus, when William Hill (later Caesars Sportsbook) opens its retail book at Capital One Arena in July 2020, it quickly becomes the market leader despite its in-person requirement. It also renders Capital One Arena as the first professional sports stadium to have a sportsbook on the premises.
William Hill follows up the debut of its retail operation with the launch of its mobile app in December 2020, which presents the first bit of 1:1 competition with GambetDC.
Mayor Muriel Bowser wastes little time and signs off on the bill in January 2019. Due to the unique governmental structure associated with Washington, DC, the passed bill must also gain the approval of the US Congress to become law in the district. After its transmission and discussion at the federal level, sports betting becomes legal in the capital in May 2019. However, due to logistical issues and an ongoing lack of sporting events because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no sportsbook of any kind opens its doors in DC in 2019.
The fall of PASPA in May leads many states to consider legalizing sports betting. DC, though not a state, follows suit when Councilman Jack Evans introduces B22-0944, the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018, to the DC City Council for its consideration. The bill calls for legalization of both online and retail sports betting and installs the DC Lottery as both the chief purveyor of mobile wagering and the regulator for the industry. After due consideration and the attachment of three amendments, the bill passes to Bowser’s desk in December 2018.
DC sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in DC?
Yes. Sports betting is both legal and active within the city limits of the District of Columbia. The DC Lottery launched GambetDC as the only district-wide online sportsbook allowed under the law in May 2020. Since then, three retail sportsbooks and two other online sportsbooks (with limited range) have opened their doors for business.
Who oversees Washington, DC sports betting?
The DC Lottery. The commission serves as the regulator for the district’s industry and maintains oversight over any new developments within DC sports betting.
Who can apply for a DC sports betting license?
Almost any business, but with significant restrictions. Only one mobile app is permitted district-wide. Only Class A licenseholders — four major stadiums in DC — are allowed to have an online app that extends beyond their premises in any regard. Every other type of business that wishes to offer sports betting can only do so on its own property. However, there is no restriction on the type of business that offers sports betting, so long as sports betting isn’t the only commerce that occurs onsite.
How old do I have to be to bet on sports in Washington, DC?
18. If you want to place a wager through one of DC’s sportsbook apps or in-person, you need only be 18. However, individual retail operations may require patrons to be 21 if they serve alcohol.
Can you play daily fantasy sports in Washington, DC?
Yes. DraftKings and FanDuel, among other providers, actively provide daily fantasy sports (DFS) service to residents and visitors in the District. However, there is no explicit law to permit or ban DFS inside Washington, DC at this time. A search of proposed and passed legislation from the DC Council does not indicate much interest in ruling on daily fantasy sports contests, either.
Does DC have online sports betting?
Yes. There are three apps active in DC right now. GambetDC, Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, and BetMGM Sportsbook are all in service in the capital. However, both Caesars and BetMGM are limited to serving customers within a radius of approximately two blocks around their physical hubs in DC. Only GambetDC is permitted to offer betting anywhere in Washington.
What is GambetDC?
GambetDC is the official sportsbook app of the DC Lottery. The app has been the source of controversy since it launched. DC Councilman Jack Evans pushed for the council to award the contract to Intralot, the lottery’s technology provider, without a bid process. Evans’ moves drew ire at the time, particularly when it was revealed that Evans is good friends and one-time partners with Intralot’s chief lobbyist in Washington.
GambetDC’s actual service has also been the subject of much derision due to the apparent lack of experience and market understanding displayed by Intralot. The source of the scorn is GambetDC’s prohibitively expensive betting lines. Thus, GambetDC’s performance has disappointed its ownership and the leadership of the City Council.