The District of Columbia is currently home to two sportsbooks, William Hill and GameBetDC. William Hill has a retail location at Capital One Arena, where the Washington Wizards and Capitals play, and GameBetDC is the District’s mobile betting service.
William Hill has continuously outperformed GameBetDC since they both launched, and William Hill nearly tripled its betting revenue over GameBet in August.
Many D.C. residents have noted that the juiced betting lines GameBetDC is offering make it unappealing to use the app. Bettors would rather head to Capital One Arena to bet with Willian Hill in person than to do deal with the mobile betting lines.
But that’s not all.
D.C. has also been having issues with geolocation with people trying to place bets in the District of Columbia. Despite being in an authorized area, GameBetDC says the location bettors are in an unpermitted betting area. D.C. launched sports betting earlier this year and has had hiccups along the way.
Between GameBet’s juiced lines and geolocation issues, D.C. has not been the ideal place to make bets.
However, there could be some hope moving forward. A new sportsbook called Handle 19 is looking to open a retail sportsbook in the D.C. area, bringing competition for William Hill and GameBetDC. Even Handle 19 has seen some hurdles as neighbors are petitioning against the new sportsbook.
D.C. sports betting has felt like a constant one step forward two steps back since legalizing sports betting in December 2018.
William Hill vs. GameBetDC
William Hill is a sports betting operator out of the U.K. and has expanded its market reach into the U.S. starting in 2012. GameBetDC is the District’s local sports betting operator, which launched to help the city generate revenue and reinvest it into the community.
The overall goal was for GameBetDC to be used for reinvestment in the community and why the betting lines are so juiced. It sounds like sunshine and rainbows on paper, but the local sportsbook is getting crushed by looking at the numbers.
On top of that, people in D.C. are more willing to go out and go to the retail sportsbook, in a pandemic, to place a bet than to place one from their couch. That’s how bad GameBetDC has been to the District of Columbia.
Then, to add insult to injury, they cannot figure out the geolocation issues. Bettors have reported that they are trying to place bets in the city. Yet, the app is still telling them they are not in D.C. and must go to an authorized area. It makes no sense to have the issues five months into the market, and people can’t even place bets.
Fortunately, GameBetDC has no mobile betting competition. However, they are getting crushed by a retail sportsbook that decided not the launch its mobile app in the city. This hurts D.C., given the issues and how the city has struggled with sports betting since it was originally legalized in December 2018.
Maybe more competition will help solve the overall market issues, but more competition could make things worse.
Handle 19 is a sportsbook operation run by Shane August, an entrepreneur looking to capitalize on the D.C. sports betting market. He plans to build a Vegas-style casino to help the sports betting experience in the District.
However, people in the neighborhood where Handle 19 would be located are pushing back. Neighbors believe that the sportsbook could bring crime to the affluent neighborhood and want the sportsbook elsewhere. August believes that the sportsbook would be good for the area, generating revenue for the business and growing the local sports betting industry.
D.C. could use more competition, which could improve GameBetDC and William Hill’s product. August has a vision for D.C. sports betting and could help turnaround the struggling industry.