Why Are D.C. Betting Numbers So Low?

With the culture around sports betting on the rise, one would expect revenue numbers to be through the roof. After all, sportsbooks are spending millions in advertising and more and more states are officially legalizing sports wagering. Despite this, the numbers aren’t as high as expected throughout the U.S. Washington D.C. has been underperforming when it comes to sports betting numbers, and there are a few theories to explain these trends. Let’s take a look at the current Washington D.C. sports betting landscape and analyze why sports wagering isn’t trending upwards in the nation’s capital.

Washington D.C. Sports Betting Tax Revenue is Lower Than Expected

According to a new report, Washington D.C. tax revenue from legal sports betting hasn’t been as high as expected. The report, published by D.C.-based auditor Kathy Patterson, details that the city has only accumulated $1.8 million in tax revenue from sports betting between May 2020 and March 2021. These numbers are especially disappointing when you consider that D.C. Lottery projected those numbers to be closer to $6.2 million. A deficit of over $4 million is definitely worth some concern.

A Few Reasons for Low Sports Betting Numbers

The biggest reason given for these low numbers is, as you’d expect, the pandemic. Live sports shut down altogether for months, and some leagues had shortened seasons upon their return. Additionally, the pandemic heavily limited fans at sporting events, which naturally translates to less betting action. However, the pandemic isn’t solely to blame for these issues.

Patterson theorizes that the current Washington D.C. sports betting landscape is partially to blame. After all, the city’s first sports betting app Gambet D.C. had a bit of a rough start, with a delayed launch and extremely limited events upon release. The platform ended up amassing approximately $5.5 million, but only $444,000 made its way into the city’s general fund. To put that in perspective, competing sportsbook William Hill raked in around $14 million, resulting in $1.4 million worth of tax revenue. Something Patterson recommended for the city is a slight tweak to the Gambet D.C. app’s payouts, as the platform currently keeps 17% of bettors winning, significantly higher than the general 5.4% seen at most sportsbooks.

A Quick Look at Washington Sports

Something that shouldn’t contribute to the low D.C. betting numbers is the sports teams in the area. The Washington Football Team is coming off a playoff run in which they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals are looking to make a return to the Stanley Cup playoffs after being eliminated by a talented Boston Bruins squad. And, despite a 34-38 regular-season record last season, the Washington Wizards made a playoff appearance, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers. There’s less reason for optimism when it comes to the Washington Nationals, who are currently at the bottom of the NL East with a 59-84 record. It doesn’t help that the team traded veteran pitcher Max Sherzer to the Los Angeles Dodgers partway through the season.

Anthony Elio is a CU Boulder graduate with a degree in creative writing and advertising. He’s spent the past few years diving into the world of sports betting, focusing on everything from NFL to NHL and beyond.

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