The Washington DC legal sports betting industry has yet to hit its stride but during the seasonal summer wagering slowdown and July specifically, they finally look more like a typical, struggling scene, rather the seemingly failing jurisdiction they had been during peek periods for the broader market.
DC is currently home to three sports betting providers – Gambet, the Lottery sponsored book that has so far not lived up to expectations, William Hill (now Caesars) that operates out of Capitol One Arena in DC and BetMGM that went live at the end of June and runs out of Nationals Park.
All have combined to produce less-than-stellar July numbers in all metrics. Washington DC’s overall handle, their legal sports betting revenues and their tax contributions to state and local coffers all fell during July and could further fall in August before hopefully September and the NFL season brings some relief.
Getting Into It
Washington DC’s three sportsbooks saw one of the biggest month-to-month July drops seen so far among the reporting US jurisdictions. Their sports betting handle dropped an eye-opening 34.4% from June to July – from $19.5 million in June to just $12,808,240 last month.
Unfortunately, revenues from the legal sports betting scene in Washington DC also showed a double-digit decline. But thanks to a 14.1% hold, the drop-off wasn’t quite as stark as the handle. The state’s sportsbooks made $1.8 million in July, a 10% month-to-month slide.
Taxes paid out by sportsbook to state and local coffers in July was $136,902, down 18.2% from June’s $167,350.
Juxtaposing the Sportsbooks
Gambet has the clear advantage in the Washington DC scene. Its mobile platform is available throughout the district, from border to border. The problem is that they haven’t taken advantage of their advantage and continue to be plagued by unsatisfactory odds and a platform that simply does not measure up to the national brands operating in the DC market.
The two national brands, Caesars and William Hill’s platforms are confined to their respective stadiums and a two-block radius around Nationals Park and Capitol One Arena where the Washington Wizards and Capitols call home. Despite the limitations, those bigger brands are far-outpacing Gambet.
That outpacing is further emphasized when looking at the July performance of the three competing books. The two national brands combined for about 83% of the overall July handle in Washington DC or about $10.7 of the $12.8 million, while Gambet was responsible for about $2.1 million, or 17%
Gambet’s revenues for July came to about $424,000, despite a whopping 23.1% hold while Caesars and BetMGM combined for about $1.37 million in profits. William Hill, now Caesars, saw gross gaming revenue from sports betting decline 25.0% month-to-month to $1.2 million. Gambet saw its revenues fall by 16.5% in July.
Hopes for the Washington DC market is that there will be more opportunities for the state’s bettors coming as early as September and the commencement of the NFL season. By that time, it is hoped that a Class B licensing structure will be in place to allow for Gambet kiosks at bars and restaurants.
Elys Game Technologies and one of the two DFS giants currently dominating the sports betting provider space may also be coming into the DC market. Both have made moves to open their own DC sportsbooks, creating even more much-needed competition.
DC from Afar
The Washington DC market is a somewhat difficult one to predict. While most states are expecting a huge boom with respect to their legal wagering scene in the fall, the fact that Nationals Park will all-but-go dormant after September and the conclusion of baseball season has people wondering just how BetMGM will fare in the colder months.
Caesars and their location at Capitol One Arena on the other hand should be hopping with the Wizards and Capitols getting their seasons underway in the fall.
The overall market is waiting on the overdue Office of the DC Auditor report on the sports betting scene to see if it will open up what has been a restrictive market so far. With an uneven playing field for the national brands, DC’s sports betting scene has been stuck in neutral with a clear desire to get cranking.
We’ll see if DC bettors get the robust and competitive platform they deserve. Everyone benefits from a more open market. Hopes are that regulators get tuned in to that fact.