Elys Bringing Sportsbook To Washington, DC. What About Maryland?

Written By Hill Kerby on October 16, 2023 - Last Updated on October 17, 2023
Photo of sports balls, money, a capitol logo and Elys Gaming logo on story about new DC sportsbook

Sports bettors in our nation’s capital will have another retail location to place bets before the year’s end.

The global gaming company Elys Game Technology announced it will open its third location in Washington, DC, the Grand Central Sportsbook on H Street, during the fourth quarter of 2023.

Elys operates the retail sportsbooks at Grand Central Restaurant and Sportsbook, about three-and-a-half miles from the new location, and the Cloakroom Gentlemen’s Club Over Under Sportsbook Lounge, which sits between the two. It will be able to accept wagers once it receives final approval from the DC Office of Lottery and Gaming (DCOLG).

Why is Elys launching a retail sportsbook in Washington, DC?

Despite its online sports betting struggles, DC presents an opportunity for expansion on the retail side. As the district’s first Class B license-holder, Elys gained a leg up that has brought hundreds of thousands in wagers each month at its locations.

Elys’ first venture at Grand Central Restaurant began in October 2021. Two years later, it still has no competitors and is growing its footprint as it takes advantage of a largely open market.

Still, overall, Washington, DC’s sports betting situation is bleak, with only one mobile app available throughout the district, the DC Lottery-run app Gambet. Two other apps (Caesars and BetMGM) also run in a restricted fashion, only available in zones near Capital One Arena and Nationals Park.

Retail betting is not much better, with Elys’ two current locations making up one-third of the available options.

The numbers confirm the district’s sports betting struggles, too.

DC sportsbooks have accepted just $106.4 million this year through August. That’s less than half the volume of what Virginia and Maryland online sportsbooks receive in a single month.

Elys carves out a niche

Online sports betting accounts for over 90% of wagers in most markets, but that doesn’t make the retail side a losing venture. Elys has achieved success in Europe with a small business sportsbook model and is betting on it growing in the US in the coming years, said Michele Ciavarella, executive chairman of Elys, in a press release.

“The small business model presents a compelling opportunity as it offers customers convenient access to betting on their favorite sports while enjoying a night out at their local social establishment. We are buoyed by industry trends in the United States and believe that as more states adopt this model, we can rapidly expand our customer base with minimal upfront costs.”

DC part of a greater US expansion strategy

The planned expansion in DC is only one part of the picture for Elys, which recently installed a multimillion-dollar server infrastructure in Cincinnati. It plans to use it to scale operations in other states, including tribal casinos in Michigan, New Mexico and North Dakota.

In the announcement, Elys said it plans to expand into retail sports betting in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey. This means Marylanders could see Elys-run sportsbooks at local bars across The Old Line State.

Officials say the operator is also exploring mobile opportunities in several US states and Canadian provinces in the coming months.

Photo by Shutterstock / Illustration by PlayMaryland
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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby is a proponent of legal, safe, and responsible gambling. He feels fortunate to be able to contribute to the growing betting industry through his writing, primarily using his background in poker, sports, and psychology to do so.

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