D.C. Sports Betting App Focus of Heated Debate

Washington D.C. has a sports betting app that seems to have a monopoly in the district but one outgoing official, Elissa Silverman (l.), would like to see more operators brought in to help stimulate competition.

The performance of Washington D.C. ‘s betting app was the impetus for a bill introduced by one of the council members, but the proposed legislation may be dead on arrival.

The topic of Councilmember Elissa Silverman’s bill, which would give operators like BetMGM, Caesars, and FanDuel more access for their mobile apps.

Currently, GambetDC, a lottery-run sports betting app developed through third-party provider Intralot, is the only operator allowed in the larger D.C. area.

But the app, which was approved in 2019 on a no-bid contract, has been widely criticized for its performance.

That criticism continued at a recent meeting of the Washington D.C. Council’s Business and Economic Committee. Silverman touted her bill and said that the current sportsbook provider has serious flaws.

“Gambet can’t be fixed,” Silverman said. “The District will correct the course on sports gambling and actually generate revenue only if the council acquires it through legislation.”

That drew the ire of Frank Suarez, executive director of the D.C. Office of Lottery and Gaming. He contentiously argued with Silverman in a debate that was often intense.

“What I want to make sure is clear is that the model you’re proposing will not raise revenue, and no matter how many different ways you look at it, it’s not a better model than what we currently have,” Suarez said. “I’m giving you facts, and I’m not hearing facts from your side that are coming that are saying that’s a better model.”

These were talking points that were in a recent press release put out by the Office of Lottery and Gaming.

“In addition to a new app experience, GambetDC unveiled a host of other product enhancements which should further drive growth,” the press release said. “This includes increasing the GambetDC average payout to 90%. Rapid expansion of the GambetDC retail footprint to 58 licensed retailers and upgrades to the retail self-service betting experience have also been key to growth.”

Silverman’s bill might be mute. She did not win reelection, nor did another co-sponsor of the bill, Mary Cheh. Without that support someone else would have to pick up the bill and try to get it passed. It is unclear now if there is anyone that would be willing to do that.