GambetDC Handle Continues Plummet As Online Sports Bettors Avoid DC

Posted on May 24, 2021 - Last Updated on September 30, 2021

Washington, DC, hasn’t offered a worthy online product for sports bettors, and that insufficiency is reflected in the latest GambetDC numbers.

The DC Lottery recently released April figures for sports betting in the nation’s capital.

GambetDC, which the DC Lottery operates with Intralot, essentially has a monopoly on online sports betting in the district. Yet sports bettors, who were already slow to sample the product, are now leaving it in droves.

In April, online sports bettors tallied just $2.7 million in wagers ($2,741.912.02, to be exact).

It continues a troubling trend for GambetDC, which has seen a steady drop in handle for every month in 2021.

GambetDC handle in a freefall

Sports fans and bettors were optimistic that 2021 would mark a return to normal. That would mean full sports schedules, healthy teams, in-person fans and robust betting options.

In many states, the sports betting market has been picking up this year. The NFL playoffs (January), Super Bowl (February) and March Madness kicked off the calendar year. In neighboring Virginia, for example, a robust online sports betting market has increased substantially each month since its January launch.

GambetDC is having the opposite effect in Washington, DC. After an ugly launch, in large part because of bad odds and poor customer support, things haven’t improved much. A lack of promotions and a small menu of betting markets have compounded the problems.

After three straight months of incremental growth (November-January), GambetDC had reached its highest monthly handle. However, the totals have petered out since that January high.

The monthly handle and the total number of wagers have both been cut nearly in half since the start of the year:

  • January 2021: $5.2 million (148,853 wagers)
  • February 2021: $4.2 million (124,362 wagers)
  • March 2021: $3.8 million (119,189 wagers)
  • April 2021: $2.7 million (87,085 wagers)

William Hill maintains lead

Although sports bettors have largely avoided GambetDC, another DC sportsbook operator is gaining some traction.

Overall, DC sportsbooks collected $10.7 million in April. GambetDC accounted for $2.7 million of it, and the rest came from William Hill.

The veteran bookmaker collected most of its $8 million in bets through its retail sportsbook at Capital One Arena. The facility is home to the NHL’s Washington Capitals and WNBA’s Washington Mystics, among other teams. But it’s also become a popular spot for retail sports betting.

William Hill is permitted to take online wagers within a short radius around the arena. However, retail betting is its primary offering. That’s one reason it’s getting a face-lift to make the arena retail front even more alluring.

Still, the $8 million handle was a fairly significant drop from February ($11.1 million) and March ($11.4 million).

Here are the monthly tallies for both online and retail sports betting in DC:

  • January: $15.8 million
  • February: $15.3 million
  • March: $15.2 million
  • April: $10.7 million

Savvy bettors opting for William Hill

To get an idea of why sports bettors are choosing William Hill over GambetDC, look at the hold.

That’s the amount that a sportsbook keeps after paying out winnings to players. The national average is 6-8%. Although William Hill has had some double-digit months, GambetDC regularly nears 20%.

That means GambetDC’s poor odds are taking a chunk out of players’ bankrolls. It could also explain why they’re leaving the app and are willing to wait in line to instead bet at William Hill at Capital One Arena.

Some players are also undoubtedly traveling to Virginia, where they can easily place bets online from one of seven operational sportsbooks in VA. And soon, they’ll be able to do the same in Maryland, which will have one of the nation’s most robust and competitive markets.

Nationals Parks (BetMGM) and Audi Field (FanDuel) could also soon have retail sportsbooks in DC.

GambetDC had a head start on much of this regional competition. It also has a competitive edge over William Hill and future retail sportsbooks because of the convenience factor of online wagering.

But unless lawmakers step in to fix GambetDC’s problems, it’s never going to meet those once-lofty expectations.

Photo by AP / Nick Wass
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