By Southwester Staff
The DC Lottery has pushed back the launch of on-site sports betting in retail locations to summer 2021. In a June 3 budget hearing, DC Lottery Executive Director Beth Bresnahan said the pandemic “has prevented field technicians” from visiting stores to upgrade equipment and delayed shipments of necessary equipment from overseas. Previously, the DC Lottery had projected $9.6 million in revenue from sports betting in FY20, which has been entirely removed from the budget.
According to the Office of Lottery and Gaming’s Director of Marketing and Communication, Nicole Jordan, there are 300-400 Lottery retailers in the District that currently sell lottery tickets. While all of those independently-operated stores could technically add the D.C. sports book to their offerings, Jordan told “The Southwester” that some locations lack the physical space for the new equipment. Since DC Lottery retailers operate on commission, the delay could affect revenues. Though some Washingtonians prefer on-site gaming, for now they can use the GambetDC online sports betting platform, Jordan said.
Sports betting was approved in D.C. in late 2018 after a US Supreme Court decision earlier that year cleared the way for state-by-state legalization. GambetDC had a “soft launch” on May 28, 2020. It received lukewarm reviews. For instance, a May 28 column on the “Washington Post’s” D.C. Sports Blog called GambetDC a “bad bet,” and a “work in progress.” In the first week, 640 GambetDC accounts were created, which wagered $11,295 on soccer, mixed martial arts, darts, and football futures. The DC Lottery is looking to its iLottery platform to “help replace some of the revenue lost from the lack of sporting events and the slowdown of sales at store locations,” Bresnahan said.
Private sports books are not affected by the delay in retailer upgrades. According to the DC Lottery website, a Class B license costs $100,000 and is valid for five years. Sports facilities such as Audi Field and Nationals Stadium must apply for a Class A license, which costs $500,000 and is also valid for five years. Businesses within two blocks of Class A facilities are not eligible for a Class B license.
According to the DC Lottery’s June 5 Sports Wagering Application Status Report, there were a total of seven companies applying for sports betting licenses. Almost all applicants are seeking provisional licences, meaning that since they operate sports books in other states, their application may be expedited in the District. Online payment company Paypal is one of the entities that has applied for a provisional license.
Jordan expects applications to increase now that lockdown restrictions are starting to be lifted. DC United and Caesars Entertainment finalized a partnership deal in February 2020, and teased a sports betting component at that time. Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW), which has a location less than a block from Nationals Stadium, has tested a sports betting platform called “BetMGM” in five other US states. United and BWW haven’t stated whether they had been planning on rolling out on-site sports betting before lockdowns began in March. United did not respond to a “Southwester” inquiry.