DC Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Expand Online Sports Betting Options

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on October 25, 2022
new law dc sports betting licenses

Lawmakers in Washington, DC, introduced a new gaming bill that could expand the number of online DC sports betting options in the District. 

On Monday, Councilmember Elissa Silverman introduced the Sports Wagering and Fair Competition Amendment Act of 2022. The bill would change DC’s current sports betting format to allow for more operators. 

A long time in the making for DC sports betting

DC sports betting became legal in 2019. However, it has been plagued with issues, including a massive outage during last year’s Super Bowl. 

“If we’re going to have a lottery and a sports betting program, let’s at least make it a revenue generator for the city so it can fund important efforts in public safety, public education and housing,” Silverman said. “And let’s stop the bad practice of awarding lucrative contracts without competition.”

In 2019, the council awarded a single contract to Intralot to create GambetDC, the District’s online sports betting app. 

“On the biggest sports betting day of the year, the Super Bowl, the app crashed,” Silverman said. “That’s abysmal, that’s a failure.” 

Additionally, GambetDC lost revenue during its first year of operation.

The District does have retail sportsbooks open at Audi Field (FanDuel), Capital One Arena (Caesars), and Nationals Park (BetMGM).

Bringing in more competition 

The new bill is structured similarly to all other legal jurisdictions in the US, where any company can apply for a betting license. If approved, operators would pay a 15% tax. The bill also requires that the District terminates its contract with Intralot in 2024. 

“What my bill would do is to open up our sports betting program to other mobile apps like FanDuel and DraftKings,” said Silverman. “We’d take the approach Virginia has taken and Maryland will take very soon and we would just tax the revenue of those mobile apps.”

Unfortunately, not all parties involved are on board with Silverman’s bill.

Frank Suarez, Executive Director of the Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG), said maintaining the OLG as the sole operator of mobile wagering is the best option. 

Suarez also noted that building an app from scratch resulted in a loss of revenue. 

“These investments and regulatory costs resulted in GambetDC not providing a net transfer to the District in fiscal year 2021. However, most of the startup costs have now been incurred and marketing expenses have normalized,” Suarez said. 

At present, there are only three active online sportsbooks in DC. Gambet is the only app available anywhere in the District, however. The other two are only available within a small radius of their physical locations.

  • Caesars Sportsbook
  • BetMGM Sportsbook
  • GambetDC
  • FanDuel Sportsbook (coming soon)
Photo by PlayUSA
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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