McDuffie Bill Encourages DC Mobile Sports Betting Competition

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Posted on: March 21, 2024, 03:06h. 

Last updated on: March 21, 2024, 03:26h.

A Washington, DC City Council member introduced legislation that, if approved, would expand the number of mobile sports wagering applications available in the District.

Washington, DC Council member Kenyan McDuffie (I-At Large) at a 2021 campaign rally. He introduced a bill to allow more mobile sports betting apps in the city. (Image: WUSA9/YouTube)

Council member Kenyan McDuffie (I-At Large) introduced the Sports Wagering Amendment Act of 2024 on Wednesday. A member of the Council’s Committee on Business and Economic Development (CBED), McDuffie was among the legislators who highlighted flaws with the GambetDC app, the lone sports betting app available throughout the District. He wants more sports betting competition in the city.

Our current model isn’t working, this bill will bring needed competition into the sports wagering marketplace and allows current Class A retail sportsbook operators (located at Audi Field, Capital One Arena and Nationals Park) to provide their mobile apps city wide,” he said in a Wednesday post on X (formerly Twitter).

McDuffie introduced his bill just over a week after the official announcement that Intralot would subcontract operation of GambetDC out to FanDuel, meaning that later this spring, FanDuel will become the only mobile sports wagering app available throughout Washington, DC.

McDuffie Legislation Could Be Moneymaker for DC

Since the debut of GambetDC approximately four years ago, bettors in the District could use that app just about anywhere in the city, except inside or near federal buildings.

Conversely, BetMGM (Nationals Park), Caesars Sportsbook (Capital One Arena), and FanDuel (Audi Field) could only be used in those stadiums and within a two-block radius of those venues. That restriction coupled with GambetDC’s widely criticized odds and interface prompted many DC bettors to go to neighboring Maryland and Virginia to place wagers by phone.

That’s chased tax receipts out of the District, though the transition to FanDuel will likely improve that situation. FanDuel believes it will generate $119 million in taxable revenue in Washington, DC over the next five years. That’s more than the forecast $10 million from the current system. McDuffie’s bill would allow retail sportsbook operators, such as BetMGM and Caesars, to partner with pro teams to offer mobile betting in the city.

“It also creates a Class C mobile sports wagering license to sports teams who meet certain criteria, including being headquartered in the District of Columbia and playing 90% of their home games at a facility with a Class A retail sportsbook,” McDuffie added on X.

GambetDC a ‘Failure’

In its roughly four years on the market, GambetDC has notched offenses such as losing money in 2021, not being available to bettors during the 2022 Super Bowl, and generating lower-than-expected tax revenue. So it’s not a stretch to call the current system a failure, as does McDuffie.

Opening Washington, DC to more mobile operators should attract the desired competition. The district’s population of about 713K tops that of Wyoming, where multiple gaming companies offer mobile sports betting. Plus, DC has the advantage of being home to multiple professional sports franchises. McDuffie’s bill would also provide funding for activities for local youth and problem betting treatment.

“Annually, it will invest $1,000,000 in youth extracurricular activities from the proceeds of sports wagering revenues; and dedicates $300,000 to the Department of Behavioral Health to combat problem gambling,” he noted on X.

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