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D.C. Sports Betting App Cost City $4 Million in 2021

D.C. Sports Betting App Cost City $4 Million in 2021 article feature image
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Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: FedExField, Home of the Washington Football Team in the District of Columbia.

D.C. Sports bettors clamoring for a mobile option beyond the city’s shockingly terrible, bug-ridden app got some hopeful news this week when lawmakers questioned its effectiveness.

Not only did the GambetDC mobile app make the city zero money in 2021, it actually ran a $4 million deficit due to marketing costs, according to documents released Thursday as part of the DC Lottery’s annual performance review. Its on pace to net the District $1.5 million in 2022, a far cry from the annual $20 million projected when it signed a five-year contract with the mobile operator in 2019.

Add that to the list of goofs for Intralot, the Greek gaming company contracted to run the DC Lottery’s monopoly on online sports betting.

Just last month, the app stopped working on Apple devices hours before the Super Bowl, the biggest sports betting event of the year, due to a mistimed update.

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D.C. councilmember Kenyan McDuffie said another outage during a crucial betting event would be a “national embarrassment.”

He questioned how online sports betting could be costing the city money when it’s generated millions of tax dollars in so many states.

“One thing we can’t measure is, without spending that $4 million, how that would’ve impacted the handle and the total amount,” said Frank Suarez, executive director of the D.C. Office of Lottery and Gaming. “Again, it’s a start-up, you have to build the brand, you have to acquire players.”

“When you talk about building a brand, you know, I’ve heard that since before you arrived, and the trouble with continuing to hear that you’re building a brand is what happened on February 13th on Super Bowl Sunday,” said McDuffie.

For anyone who’s actually used the app, the answer is obvious.

Its odds are among some of the worst offered in the country at around -115 to -120 a line. Its likely why the city’s three in-person sportsbooks outpace it in handle at a 3 to 1 rate, unheard of anywhere else.

Unfortunately for bettors, it’s still unclear when the District might consider opening up to other mobile operators, which have so far been confined to two-block radius’ around their retail sportsbooks.

Intralot’s sole-source contract runs through 2025.

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