Like most things to come out of Washington D.C. throughout our nation’s history, sports betting could have gone a lot better. A rushed and hurried process in the District of Columbia barely managed to pass a vote at every turn and now we’re left with Gambet, which is run by Intralot. The GambetDC app was a summer 2020 project, but Intralot also announced plans to release its own app in 2021.
Council members voted to just let just one operator have sole discretion in D.C. and it wound up being Intralot. Ironically, the one-operator vote took place all the way back in December 2018, but sports betting did not launch in D.C. until May 2020. The process was slow at first and then moved at hyperspeed, almost like it was something that council members and Mayor Muriel Bowser no longer wanted to deal with.
Intralot was the provider for the D.C. Lottery, which is how it wound up with the contract. Rather than open up to a bidding process that included Scientific Games, IGT, or maybe even a different setup with multiple operators like DraftKings, FanDuel, or BetMGM, close votes fell in favor of one operator and then Intralot was given the green light because sports betting was going to run through the lottery.
GambetDC is the primary sports betting app in the District of Columbia. It is run by the state lottery and its data provider, Intralot, which does not provide a fair betting experience with unreasonable betting odds and high vig.
GambetDC will get competition from private business setting up its own sportsbooks, but this app is widely available in the district, including betting kiosks at bars, restaurants, and other approved lottery vendors. The app is available everywhere in the district, but cannot be used in federal buildings or within two blocks of the district’s sports venues.
GambetDC looks the part and works fine as a perfectly functional betting app for pregame wagering and in-game wagering. Recreational bettors and those just happy to have the chance to bet in a safe, legal environment are going to be willing to overlook the unfair odds with vig well above the industry standard, but we are not willing to overlook that here at ATS.
Read an in-depth review of GamBet DC: GamBet DC Review
William Hill Sportsbook and BetMGM Sportsbook entered the Washington D.C. sports betting space at separate times. William Hill was the first with a retail sportsbook located inside Capital One Arena, the home of the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals.
Interested bettors don’t need to be attending an event at the arena to place sports bets. They can just walk in during the normal business hours to bet with William Hill. The app can only be used within a two-block radius of the arena, so there are options for mobile betting, but they are limited.
BetMGM opened up a retail sportsbook at Nationals Park, the home of, you guessed it, the Washington Nationals. The funniest part about all of this is that you have two-block radius for use of the apps and the two venues are just over two miles apart. That means that you can hit up both sportsbooks with a short commute and can also line shop as well.
FanDuel Sportsbook has an exclusive deal with DC United in the MLS, so a FanDuel Sportsbook will be coming to Audi Field, a whopping 0.2 miles away from Nationals Park.
If you are down in the sports and entertainment areas in Washington D.C., you will have the luxury of getting away from the predatory and unfair odds of Gambet DC with some different options.
Unfortunately, widespread use of William Hill and BetMGM is not possible in the district and that will be true of FanDuel when they get going as well.
Sports betting in D.C. is available across the district because there are no casinos for retail sportsbooks. Users can place bets online, with mobile devices, or at kiosks and retail locations that were previously approved to sell lottery tickets and instant games. That is the one major upshot for sports betting in the district.
Not all states with lottery-run sports betting have this provision, but the legal age for sports betting in D.C. is 18.
GambetDC was met by setbacks because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the other issues on the road to legalization, but it officially launched in May 2020 to negative reviews because of its pricing and unfair odds.
GambetDC launched in May before the apps were ready to go, so wagering was restricted to online betting, but the apps were set to launch in early June. With a limited betting calendar, that proved to be a minor deal for GambetDC, but it seemed to be almost a reflection of the entire process in general.
This is where the District of Columbia gets interesting. Private businesses can own and operate their own sportsbooks. The GambetDC app does not work in federal buildings or within two blocks of the district’s sports venues. As a result, Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, and Washington Mystics, has partnered with William Hill to put a sportsbook inside of Capital One Arena.
Sports bars, if they can afford all the requirements, can also apply for a Class B license to set up their own retail sportsbook.
That is going to be very unique with regards to the United States and we will see if it eventually catches on in other states. For D.C. natives, the private sportsbooks are going to be a much better option than GambetDC and we will look at those places and review them as they get started. Online betting seems to be limited to being inside that specific facility, so it may not be the most convenient, but it will be worth it to get odds from those places instead of the bad odds from Gambet.
The GambetDC app is fine from a functionality standpoint and the website is easy to read, but it certainly lacks fair odds and opportunities. Perhaps that will change as private businesses put together their own platforms.
Washington D.C.’s legal sports betting is still a work in progress, so keep checking back right here at ATS and we’ll let you know what’s going on and review the different operators in the district.
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