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Gambling News

Washington Legal Sports Betting Launch Delayed Until Leagues Return 

With the worldwide sports schedule essentially erased by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Washington D.C. has pressed pause on the launch of legal sports betting.

In a statement issued by the District’s Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG), officials confirmed that the GambetDC online / mobile sportbook app – previously scheduled to go live on April 1 – would be delayed until further notice:

“GambetDC, the sports betting platform powered by the DC Lottery, is tested and ready to go live.

At this time, almost all sports leagues around the world have suspended play indefinitely due to growing concerns around the COVID-19 virus and, as a consequence, there are little to no games or bets to offer. This goes for the Lottery’s offering, as well as any other sports books operating in the U.S. and globally.

We are revising our sports wagering launch strategy based on the current state of world events, but will be posting information about the platform in the coming days, including introducing the brand and its functionalities.

Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.

The Lottery and Intralot are prepared to launch the platform when it is safe for the sports world to return.”

Long Road for D.C. Sports Betting Suddenly Gets Longer

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) signed sports betting legislation in January, and following a required period of Congressional review and approval, the bill became law 60 days later. The Council of the District of Columbia crafted the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act to allow for both brick and mortar and online / mobile sportsbooks to be allowed for Washington legal sports betting.

In addition to four planned physical bet shops – located within Capital One Arena, Audi Field, Nationals Park, and St. Elizabeth’s East Entertainment and Sports Arena – D.C. operates the GambetDC online / mobile app through its city lottery. Greek lottery and sports betting firm Intralot was awarded the exclusive right to run GambetDC on the backend.

At the time, the American Gaming Association (AGA) – which is headquartered in D.C. – issued a statement criticizing the Council’s decision to give Intralot a local monopoly:

“While the vote today is progress, we remain deeply concerned about giving the lottery a virtual monopoly in the mobile market.

Predictably, this will result in less investment and innovation, to the detriment of consumers and the ability of a nascent legal marketplace to compete with the accessibility and convenience offered by many established illegal wagering operations.”

In the wake of Intralot “winning” the no-bid contract, local media outlets reported that the bill’s sponsor, Councilmember Jack Evans, had several undisclosed business dealings with the company. Unrelated business conducted by Evans eventually prompted the FBI to investigate, culminating in the lawyer’s resignation from the Council in January.

Intralot Adjusts After March’s Montana Launch

Intralot enjoys a similar monopoly in Montana, which launched its newly legalized online / mobile sports betting industry on March 11. That launch was marred by the company’s decision to offer inflated moneyline odds as high as (-147), despite the accepted industry standard of (-110).

“We are revising our launch strategy now based on the current state of world events/no games happening, but we will be ready to fully debut our sportsbook when it is safe for the sports world to return to the court, field, etc.”
Nicole Jordan

Intralot and the D.C. Lottery originally targeted July of last year for a tentative launch date, but the timeline continued to be pushed back. As recently as two weeks ago, however, lotto spokesperson Nicole Jordan issued a statement indicating the April 1 launch was still a go:

“We are revising our launch strategy now based on the current state of world events/no games happening, but we will be ready to fully debut our sportsbook when it is safe for the sports world to return to the court, field, etc.”