William Hill Mobile App Debuts in Washington, Can’t Be Used in Fed Buildings

Posted on: December 30, 2020, 10:35h. 

Last updated on: December 30, 2020, 11:06h.

William Hill’s mobile betting application is live in the nation’s capitol. But it doesn’t offer much of the convenience gamblers associate with placing bets via smartphones.

William Hill
Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. William Hill’s mobile app is live, but bettors have to be near the arena to use it. (Image: New York Times)

DC Lottery approved the William Hill app this month and the British bookmaker announced the launch in a statement issued Tuesday. But there are limits on where bettors can and cannot place wagers.

Available for use within a two-block radius around Capital One Arena (excluding federal buildings), the William Hill mobile app offers sports fans a betting experience with a broad and deep array of markets and bet types,” according to the release.

Translation: Gamblers wishing to use the app essentially have to go to Capital One Arena, site of the William Hill retail sportsbook, or be somewhere quite close to the venue, and they cannot be inside of a federal building.

That policy is akin to what’s found in some smaller states where sports betting is legal, where gamblers can wager via mobile devices as long as they’re on the premises of a casino. However, the mobile betting restrictions William Hill is dealing with in DC represent significant departures from what’s seen elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region. That includes where unencumbered online sports betting is thriving in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

William Hill Still Threat to DC Lottery

The reason for the tight controls on William Hill’s DC app is easy to explain. The UK-based company has a Class A license in the city, meaning its services can only be offered in one of the four sports stadiums in the area.

The William Hill book at Capital One Arena opened on July 31. That facility is home to the NHL’s Washington Capitals, the NBA’s Wizards, and the WNBA’s Mystics. Those teams are owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, William Hill’s partner on the sportsbook.

Since then, the company rapidly surpassed DC Lottery’s Gamebet as the preferred sports betting platform option in the US capitol city. Although Gamebet is truly mobile, the offering endures wide criticism for hanging shoddy lines. For example, a game where the favorite is -110 (bet $110 to win $100) at a traditional sportsbook could be offered at -130 or higher by Gamebet.

William Hill’s success in Washington indicates savvy bettors know there’s a superior alternative to Gamebet and will capitalize on it, even if it means going to Capital One Arena. Last month, $13.7 million in bets were placed at that retail sportsbook, resulting in $2.73 million in gross gaming revenue.

Broader Horizons in the Future

There are avenues for William Hill to broaden its reach in Washington, DC. For example, Caesars, the company that’s acquiring the UK-based firm, previously held talks with Major League Soccer (MLS) club D.C. United about putting a sportsbook at Audi Field.

Additionally, there are plans for a new entertainment venue at Nationals Park, home of MLB’s Washington Nationals, and a sportsbook could be included there, though there is no confirmation on that as of yet.

Even if William Hill remains confined to limited mobile betting in DC, neighboring Maryland is expected to be live with sports betting in summer 2021. That’s pertinent to the London-based company, because it will likely have been absorbed by Caesars by that point and the buyer operates a land-based casino in that state.