Members of the Council of the District of Columbia are pondering whether to keep GambetDC’s district-wide mobile betting monopoly or revisit the system to let major sportsbook operators in.
Addressing the Issues Head-On
A virtual roundtable meeting Wednesday saw some councilmembers raising their concerns that the current state of failings related to GambetDC, the DC Lottery’s sole provider of sports betting services powered by Intralot, cannot continue.
“From the council’s perspective, this cannot continue. We cannot continue to scapegoat the pandemic, the Federal enclave and say because we get a greater rate of return on revenue, we should stay the course. Getting a greater share of zero is still zero.”
Kenyan McDuffy, Chair, DC Council
McDuffy was adamant that councilmembers and delegates should rather address the failings than wait for the fortunes to turn around. And he was not the only one to think that GambetDC’s sportsbook failings so far have been embarrassing for the district.
Ward three DC councilmember Mary Cheh played events back to 2019 when the DC Council gave Intralot a district-wide five-year monopoly on mobile sports betting after a $215 million no-bid contract, pointing out that she strongly opposed the move then. The contract provided for a 42.5% share of the sports betting revenue for the DC Lottery’s tech supplier.
Cheh outlined that all things the council was told then that a sole source contract would speed up the process and the DC would beat the other jurisdictions “was all nonsense.” She also reminded councilmembers that she had raised doubts about the projected revenue, too.
GambetDC was originally projected to generate from its inception in 2019 throughout 2022 around $92 million in revenue for the DC, yet it failed to deliver miserably on its targets and even cost the district $4 million in 2021.
Time to Admit Failure
Councilmember Cheh continued by stating that the council could have gone in the direction most of the other states chose to bring in competition and then tax operators’ profits but the “special case” idea conquered the council at the time.
“It’s time to admit that that was wrong and to revisit the entire system,” she added, drawing the attention to successful betting apps in other jurisdictions, adamant that the district has no reason to “continue pouring taxpayer dollars into this failing operation.”
Councilmember Elissa Silverman slammed GambetDC for the app’s failings during the Super Bowl calling it “an embarrassing sports gambling program.”
In February, during Super Bowl LVI, the app froze due to a technical glitch and did not allow iPhone users to place bets on the most important event betting-wise in the US. In April, GambetDC settled with the DC Lottery for $500,000 in compensation for the lost bets, marketing money spent, and reputation damage.
DC Office of Lottery and Gaming executive director Franc Suarez stated that GambetDC was slowly steading the ship and sports betting handle in 2022 proves that. Suarez also took aim at the likes of FanDuel and BetMGM by claiming that GambetDC has made approximately $2.2 million, double what they have delivered in tax revenue this year.
He concluded by informing the councilmembers that soon user experience at GambetDC will be significantly enhanced in an upgrade that will bring it more in line with what is currently on offering with other operators.