William Hill’s footprint in the nation’s capital pales in comparison to that of GambetDC, the sportsbook operated by the DC Lottery, but the sportsbook has continued to be the go-to solution for the area’s sports gamblers. Limited to just a two-block radius of Capital One Arena, both through a physical book and an online option, William Hill enjoyed a handle in March that was substantially higher than that of GambetDC, which is able to reach all corners of the district. However, it wasn’t all bad news for GambetDC.
William Hill Lines More Favorable to Gamblers
According to iGB North America, William Hill’s handle in March was $11.4 million, an increase of 2.7% over February’s figure. Gamblers took home the bulk of that, putting $10.3 million in their pockets and leaving the book with $1.2 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR). While that doesn’t seem like much, it was still a month-on-month increase of 63.8%. Much of that is likely due to the wild March Madness that ultimately found the Baylor Bears taking down the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs for the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship.
While most of DC’s gamblers were making the most of William Hill’s lines, GambetDC lingered far behind and ended March with a handle of just $3.8 million, a decline of 9.5% from the previous month. Much of the difference comes from the fact that GambetDC’s lines and odds are often geared to the DC Lottery’s idea that sports gambling should be a money-making machine, even if it isn’t competitive. Despite the low handle, however, GambetDC is likely happy with the results. Its GGR was $715,244, an increase of 19.2% over that of February.
GambetDC Has Its Back against the Wall
The magnitude of the difference in performance between the two sportsbooks can’t be overlooked. William Hill has taken more bets and has seen greater revenue than its only competitor in DC since it launched in July of last year, two months after GambetDC went live. According to some reports, DC’s sports gambling market was meant to bring in around $17 million from October 2019 to September 2020, but the final figure for the DC Lottery option since it was launched was only $2.5 million for the period, according to an unaudited financial report.
The DC Lottery has tried to argue that the lack of return has been caused by COVID-19, which it asserts has kept sports gamblers away. However, in all other states that offer it, online sportsbooks have significantly outperformed land-based alternatives. The GambetDC app is also a hindrance, with one gambler explaining to local CBS affiliate WUSA in February, “People can go to the liquor store and play the numbers, but you can’t do that [with GambetDC]. You have to go through the app and the app only receives debit cards from certain banks. It kind of defeats the purpose of what they’re trying to do if they want to generate revenue from this kind of income.”
DC could have other sportsbooks in operation but apparently wants to put as much attention on GambetDC as possible, even if it isn’t successful. An audit that is due on the district’s sports gambling activity was, conveniently or inadvertently, forgotten, which is going to delay the possibility for expansion. As the results have shown, William Hill knows how to run a successful book, while the DC Lottery’s option, powered by Intralot through a questionable arrangement, continues to sputter.