Caesars, DraftKings, Others Want Competitive Washington, DC Sports Betting Market

Estimated read time 3 min read

It’s been less than a month since FanDuel took over as the lone mobile sportsbook operator in Washington, DC, but rivals are already clamoring for access to online sports betting in the US capitol.

Washington, DC Council member Kenyan McDuffie (I-At Large) at a 2021 campaign rally. Gaming companies support his bill to open the Washington, DC mobile sports betting market. (Image: YouTube)

Earlier this week, representatives from BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, and Fanatics Betting & Gaming gave testimony before the Washington, DC City Council’s Committee Business and Economic Development Committee. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (I-At Large) sits on that committee. In March, he proposed the Sports Wagering Amendment Act of 2024, which if approved, would expand the field of gaming operators permitted to offer mobile betting in the District.

While the transition from the controversial GamBetDC mobile application to FanDuel is widely viewed as a smart move by the DC City Council, some operators caution the city is still vulnerable to missing out on important revenue by allowing an online sports betting monopoly.

Consumers are either traveling to the surrounding states to wager or, worse yet, placing wagers in the illegal offshore market, where there are no responsible gaming protocols to protect customers,” said Brandt Iden of Fanatics at the city council meeting.

He added that almost two-thirds of the operator’s customers from Maryland and 10% of those from Virginia have attempted to access the app in DC.

Stumbling Blocks to Opening Washington, DC Sports Betting Market

While FanDuel is now the lone mobile sports betting offering in Washington, the unit of Flutter Entertainment attained that status because Intralot — the Greek company behind GamBetDC — outsourced its responsibilities to FanDuel.

Intralot has a contract with the city that runs through mid-2025 and it’s not clear what it would take for that pact to be voided to broaden the field of competitors in the Washington, DC sports betting market. Additionally, bar and restaurant owners and small retailers in the District that have sports wagering kiosks are fearful of what would happen to that revenue stream if mobile betting proliferates in the city.

Barbara Lang, the former CEO and president of the Washington, DC Chamber of Commerce, told the council that the sports betting kiosks are important customer attraction and retention tools for some small businesses.

“A competitive, mobile-dominated system would completely squeeze out retailers looking to generate revenue from in-person gaming,” she told the committee.

Operators Looking to Expand DC Footprints

All of the gaming companies mentioned here offer mobile sports betting in Maryland and Virginia. In the cases of BetMGM and Caesars, they run retail sportsbooks at stadiums in the District, but like their rivals, they want what FanDuel has: mobile betting access.

It’s easy to understand why. In the first two weeks FanDuel was live in the District, bettors placed $14 million in wagers through the app. However, shedding the accord with Intralot could prove trying as the Greek company has leverage, much to the dismay of McDuffie.

“I think the District of Columbia, the nation’s capital, should be in a better situation today, on May 6, than we are,” the councilman said at the meeting. “We should not have to make a decision under duress about generating revenue with a company that has failed miserably at managing our sports wagering operation. I think there’s a case to be made that they shouldn’t be a part of it.”

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