Washington, DC, finally has legal sports betting.
After delaying the launch due to the coronavirus pandemic, GambetDC, powered by the DC Lottery, is live, at least through your browser. Android and iOS apps will be launching soon.
Normally, the launch of a new market is a cause for celebration. In the case of GambetDC, however, skeptics are keeping a close eye on things.
Technical glitches, horrible odds, and the absence of major sporting events are all plaguing the new sports betting venture.
Technical glitches abound during DC sports betting launch
According to the Washington Post, DC sports betting customers were having trouble verifying their location when trying to place a bet.
GeoComply, the geolocation service provider for GambetDC, is tasked with ensuring all GambetDC bettors are within the Washington, DC, border.
Representatives from GeoComply insists the software is working as intended. However, bettors “in close proximity” to the border or federal land may have trouble verifying their location.
— GeoComplyHelp (@GeoComplyHelp) May 31, 2020
Nicole Jordan, director of marketing and communications for the DC Lottery, said bettors are able to successfully geolocate in approved areas.
“It’s not really a problem. The geosensing technology is programmed to be really strict at launch.”
The buffer zone around federal land and the borders is set to be wider at launch. Those buffer zones will decrease over time as data is collected and the software adapts to its users.
DC sports betting customers beware
Technical glitches aside, there is a bigger and potentially longer-lasting issue that may curtail sports betting action in DC – competition.
The DC Lottery awarded its sports betting contract to Intralot, the service provider for the city’s lottery products. There wasn’t an open bidding process and it seems bettors are suffering, at least initially.
The lack of competition could hurt bettors in the long run with higher vig, the house edge, and worse odds than other states that have several sports betting operators.
That may change in the future, though. DC sports betting law allows for sports betting at stadiums and sports bars. In fact, William Hill Sportsbook is in the process of applying to open the first sportsbook on the site of a major sporting arena.
The application for William Hill at Capital One Arena is currently under review. FanDuel Sportsbook and Newgioco also have plans to launch in DC.
It seems logical to think odds will improve at GambetDC once William Hill enters the market. Well, not so fast.
GambetDC will be the only online option available. Looking at other markets around the US, the majority of sports betting takes place online or through a mobile betting app.
That convenience might come with a high price for DC sports betting customers.
Virginia sports betting could be the real winner
The Virginia sports betting law takes effect on July 1 and online sports betting in VA could potentially launch by the end of the year.
This might be the good news DC bettors need.
The competition in the VA sports betting market will surely lead to more attractive odds than what bettors will be seeing online in DC.
A short drive across the Potomac will make those odds available to bettors. When you look at the betting restrictions between the border buffer and all the federal land, it might actually be easier for many bettors to just make the drive to Virginia.
A competitive VA sports betting market could also force GambetDC’s hand.
It might not have direct online betting competition, but it will certainly have some competition between stadiums, sports bars, and its neighbors.