Published on: January 21, 2024 at 04:00 pm.
Last updated on: January 21, 2024, 12:40 PM.
GamebetDC — the controversial mobile sports betting app offered by the DC Lottery — may be on borrowed time.
Washington, D.C.’s contract with operator Intralot expires in July, and the DC Lottery appears open to taking control of mobile sports betting in the nation’s capital from the Greek company and giving it to another gaming company. Representatives from the DC Lottery made comments to that effect at the January 18 meeting of the D.C. Council Committee on Business and Economic Development (CBED).
“It’s no secret that private operators have a very strong brand, so they’re really able to use that brand and that advertising to attract more players,” DC Lottery leader Frank Suarez said at the meeting. “We want a bigger brand. We want something that players will get used to and be very satisfied with, so that’s why we’re looking to make the change.
DC Lottery’s agreement with Intralot has been heavily criticized for being a sole-source contract, meaning there was no competitive bidding process. This is seen as one of the reasons behind GamBetDC’s disappointing performance.
Lottery DC does not seek to replace GambetDC
DC Lottery is not seeking a direct replacement for GambetDC. Instead, the agency wants to change its contract with Intralot to force the operator to use a subcontractor.
In other words, the sports betting contract is not up for bid, but the mobile app could eventually carry the brands of the most popular online sports betting operators, such as BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook and FanDuel. All offer retail betting in Washington, DC.
However, these companies can only offer mobile betting within two blocks of their retail books, while GamebetDC can be accessed throughout the city except for federal buildings. Some local politicians believe it is time for change. Kenyan Council Member R. McDuffie (I-At Large) noted at the meeting that GamebetDC has been a failure since its inception.
“Sports betting in the nation’s capital simply isn’t working,” he said, adding that it was time to “tell the public what went wrong and, more importantly, what specifically they intend to do to fix the mess that was made.”
GambetDC is full of problems
Since its debut, GamebetDC has been riddled with issues affecting bettors. For example, there have been reports of the app offering odds from -115 to -118 (bet $115 or $118 to win $100) on games that normally carry odds of -110 (bet $110 to win $100). Additionally, there were technical difficulties, including an app that failed iPhone users during the 2022 Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is the most bet on single-game event in the United States.
Recently, the app has limited betting sizes and there has been a steady stream of reports that some bettors in the city are still going to Maryland or Northern Virginia for higher odds and using an app like DraftKings and FanDuel.
“There is an opportunity for us to have one of the private operator applications that players feel is much better than what we are offering,” Suarez said at the CBED hearing. “It launched with kind of outdated and not very user-friendly apps. I think even with the changes we made to the interface, there was still a perception among the player that the odds weren’t good, the app wasn’t going to work well… We just realized that it was going to be difficult to change those perceptions.” It would also be better to go ahead and just replace the platform.”