GambetDC Sports Betting App on Thin Ice in Washington, DC

Posted on: January 21, 2024, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: January 21, 2024, 12:40h.

GamebetDC — the controversial sports wagering mobile application offered by the DC Lottery — could be on borrowed time.

US Capitol
The US Capitol. The DC Lottery is considering another operator for GamebetDC. (Image: Carol M. Highsmith/Library of Congress)

Washington, DC’s contract with operator Intralot expires in July and DC Lottery appears open to pulling control of mobile sports betting in the nation’s capitol from the Greek company and giving it to another gaming firm. Representatives from DC Lottery made comments to that effect at the Jan. 18 meeting of the D.C. Council’s Committee on Business and Economic Development (CBED).

It’s no secret that the private operators have a very strong brand, so they’re able to really able to use that branding and that advertising to draw in more players,” said DC Lottery leader Frank Suarez at the meeting. “We want a bigger brand. We want something that players are used to and highly satisfied with, which is why we’re looking to make the change.”

DC Lottery’s pact with Intralot has been heavily criticized because it’s a sole-source contract, meaning there wasn’t a competitive bidding process. That’s seen as one reason GamBetDC is delivering disappointing performances.

DC Lottery Not Seeking to Replace GambetDC

DC Lottery isn’t seeking an outright replacement of GambetDC. Rather, the agency wants to alter its contract with Intralot to compel the operator to bring on a subcontractor.

In other words, the sports wagering contract isn’t being put out to bid, but the mobile app could eventually bear the branding of more familiar online sportsbook operators, such as BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook and FanDuel. All three offer retail betting in Washington, DC.

However, those companies can only offer mobile wagering within two blocks of their retail books whereas GamebetDC is accessible all over the city except for within federal buildings. Some local politicians believe it’s time for a change. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (I-At Large) noted at the meeting that GamebetDC has been a dud since inception.

“Simply put, sports betting in the nation’s capital is not working,” he said while adding it’s time “tell the public what’s gone wrong, and more importantly, what precisely they intend to do to fix the mess that’s been made.”

GambetDC Riddled with Issues

Since its debut, GamebetDC has been fraught with problems that affected bettors. For example, there were reports of the app offering odds of -115 to -118 (bet $115 or $118 to win $100) on games that would normally carry odds of -110 (bet $110 to win $100). Additionally, there have been technical difficulties, including the app failing iPhone users during the 2022 Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is the most wagered-on, single-game event in the US.

More recently, the app limited bet sizes and there have been a steady stream of reports that some bettors in the city still go to Maryland or Northern Virginia to get superior odds and use app such as DraftKings and FanDuel.

“There’s an opportunity for us to get one of the private operator apps that players feel is much better than what we’re providing,” Suarez said at the CBED hearing. “It launched with a sort of clunky, not user-friendly app. And I think even with the changes we made to the interface, there’s still player perception the odds aren’t as good, and the app isn’t going to work as well … we just realized those perceptions would be difficult to change and it would be best to go ahead and just replace the platform.”