When legalizing sports betting in a global pandemic, the states that are seeing the most success are the ones that have legal online sports betting. However, with Washington D.C., it’s the in-person betting that is carrying the District.
Washington D.C. saw $17.6 million in bets in November. States across the U.S. are reporting close to 90%, or more of the bets are coming in through mobile devices. In D.C., only 22% of the bets are via betting apps. William Hill D.C. is carrying the load in Washington with its temporary sportsbook at Capital One Arena where the Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics play.
The issue with the Washington D.C. sports betting is the hold and taxes it has put on mobile sportsbooks. The juice that games and bets are priced at attracts users away from mobile betting instead of using it. Bettors in the area feel that it is better to go to William Hill than it is to use GameBet DC.
Washington D.C. Sports Betting
When the D.C. Lottery was going to take over sports betting, the goal was that the revenue from GameBet DC would be used to help Washington D.C. city government projects and municipalities.
From that standpoint, D.C. is getting everything they need to from mobile betting despite only receiving one-fifth of the betting handle. Last month, GameBet DC paid $817.9K in taxes than William Hill at $272.9K. William Hill has a 19.9% hold on its handle, while GameBet DC has a 22.7% hold.
GameBet is the sportsbook taking the most heat publicly, but it is the only online sportsbook available in the District. There is a chance more mobile operators will enter D.C., which should help GameBet.
However, there is also the chance that sportsbooks stay away from Washington, D.C., given the situation. With the hold that sportsbooks have to have with the D.C. Lottery, it will force sportsbooks to juice the odds, which bettors will not want to deal with.
If this happens, fewer people will use the mobile sportsbook despite possibly having a better reputation than D.C., making operating in the District less desirable.
What Can D.C. Do?
D.C. launched sports betting in May, so the state is only a few months in. However, it changes could come sooner than later to attract more sportsbooks into the area.
The first would be to reduce the hold that sportsbooks have to carry. GameBet DC has standard juice of -118 compared to -110 other sportsbooks have across the U.S. This would help attract more sportsbooks because it knows that bettors are willing to pay -110 juice for a bet compared to -118.
The higher holds and taxes do help the District bring in more revenue, and it showed in November when GameBet had higher taxes than William Hill despite having one-fifth of the handle.
However, there is a chance that a lower hold will also bring in more competition, which would then increase the taxes over time.
If D.C. and the D.C. Lottery is happy with what they are seeing, then nothing will change. However, there could be a benefit to changing the regulations that would help sportsbooks and bettors and bring in more revenue for the District in the long-term.