DC Regulator Suspends Retail Sports Betting Until Summer 2021

Retail sportsbook in Washington, DC won’t restart until the summer of 2021, the state’s regulator, the DC Office of Lottery and Gaming announced. In the meantime, the regulator’s betting website, GamBetDC launched in May still lacks a dedicated mobile app.

No Retail Sports Betting in Washington, DC Says Regulator

Washington, DC will not restart retail sportsbooks until the summer of 2021, the DC Office of Lottery and Gaming has announced. While online sports betting is now live in the state, the regulator has not deemed it appropriate to restart retail sportsbooks any sooner.

This is a volte-face from the watchdog’s original plan to open retail sportsbooks on time for the 2020 NFL Season, which will no longer be an option for anyone interested in retail betting until an official restart of operations. Speaking to the Washington Business Journal, DC Lottery executive Beth Bresnahan said that the decision had been reached after observing the coronavirus outbreak and fearing a potential second wave in the fall.

Ms. Bresnahan also noted that the overseas supply chains for gaming technology had been disrupted, making it more difficult to restart the brick-and-mortar vertical. Even in casinos and retail sportsbooks around the country, there have been new safety and health guidelines that have disrupted operations on site.

Las Vegas casinos have been opening at a reduced capacity, with plexiglass separators and social distancing rules and queues of patrons weaving out at the main entrances. All of this has prompted the DC Lottery to ride the storm out until mid-2021, which means that sportsbooks that do not have a digital skin will miss out on a number of lucrative events, including the Super Bowl, NBA and NHL Seasons and March Madness, the largest collegiate competition in the United States.

Licensing Issues and Low Interest So Far

Presently, DC sportsbooks operate under two specific licenses, Class A and Class B. Class A apply to the Capital One Arena which has an active partnership with an industry veteran, William Hill.

Meanwhile, Class B licenses are obtained by restaurants and bars in the vicinity of Class A facilities. Despite these challenges, players may find an alternative, turning to the online betting platform launched late last month by the DC Lottery.

The website, GamBetDC, would still take some work to meet industry standards, however. Presently, the website doesn’t offer a dedicated app and can only be played through a browser. At the time when it launched, there were few betting options, with betting interest amounting to mere $11,295 by June 3. Estimated 640 people opened accounts to test and explore the available betting options.

The DC Lottery was previously embroiled in a lawsuit for alleged corruption in awarding Greek lottery operator Intralot a $215 million no-bid contract. The deal was seen as unprofessional and indicative of corruption and a lawsuit was filed by local software developer Dylan Carragher. Mr. Carragher lost the case after Superior Court Judge John Campbell sided with the lottery. Hopes are that GamBetDC will successfully capture interest in sports betting and see retail customers opting for the online product in the next year and in the lack of an alternative.

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