Sports betting is legal in Washington DC through its lottery and sports teams. Here’s a detailed guide to Washington DC sports betting.
History Behind Legal Sports Betting in Washington DC
The District of Columbia legislature was a massive proponent of the push to legalize sports betting. Washington, DC, is the home of our nation’s governing legislative bodies, but it also has a local government that wanted sports betting brought to the Supreme Court’s docket.
Sports betting was illegal in the United States from 1992 until 2018. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. PASPA was a law created in 1992 that banned sports betting throughout the United States. There were only a few states that were able to continue offering sports betting to players in their state. As the internet became more prevalent, states began to miss out on massive revenue figures.
This financial loss was thanks to the rise of illegal offshore casinos taking over the United States gambling economy. States pushed hard to take PASPA to the Supreme Court. Many legislatures throughout the country knew the benefit that sports betting would bring to their state. Washington, DC, projected that sports betting would set the capital up for success financially in the future because of the increased betting revenue.
When the Supreme Court did rule that PASPA was unconstitutional, Washington, DC, started its legislative process to bring sports betting to the area. The removal of PASPA gave the states the ability to make their own decision on the legality of sports betting. Washington, DC, leaders began drafting legislation to bring sportsbooks to people in their territory. A few months following the Supreme Court’s PASPA ruling, Washington, DC, legalized sports betting in the winter of 2018.
Washington, DC, sports betting is controlled by the local lottery on the sole online platform in the district. Retail sportsbooks must be given a license from the legislature before entering the state.
Financial History Behind Legal Sports Betting in Washington DC
The Washington, DC, lottery has deterred people from betting online in the capital. There are no casinos in Washington, DC; however, the district is very receptive to retail sportsbooks. To receive a license, a business must qualify as a Class A establishment. Some examples of establishments where retail sportsbooks are operating are sporting arenas, hotels, bars, and restaurants.
Financially, these retail sportsbooks have seen much more success than the lone mobile betting app available in DC, which is run by the state lottery. The first full month of retail sports betting in Washington, DC, occurred in August of 2020.
Caesars Sportsbook, previously called William Hill, in the Capital One Arena took home the top spot for financial earnings against the GamebetDC app. The sportsbook opening day occurred on July 31, and the retail book took in $1,830 worth of bets. Collectively for the entire month, Caesars Sportsbook had a total handle of $9.1 million. This resulted in Caesars generating $1.4 million in taxes.
This was a very successful month following the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Numbers have continued to rise in the Caesars Sportsbook’s financial portfolio, and a big reason for this is the lack of success of online sports betting in the district.
Lottery Sportsbook App
The Washington, DC, lottery runs the legal mobile app in the state. The app has not gotten out to a great financial start. A big reason for this is because the odds are very tough to win with on the app. The District of Washington is nowhere near as big as other states where sports betting is legal in the nation. It’s very easy for residents to go place a bet at a retail sportsbook because of the size of the district.
The DC sports betting app, GambetDC, saw close to 67,000 bets placed online in August. The app has been operating since June.
Caesars had over 69,000 bets placed throughout August. GambetDC had a total handle of $2.1 million, which turned into a revenue of $278,141. GambetDC will have to change its marketing strategy to surpass Caesars for the top sportsbook in the state.
Sportsbook Apps in Washington DC
Washington, DC, law states that the district lottery has a monopoly when it comes to legal online betting. The legal app in the state is GambetDC, and it hasn’t received great reviews since it launched on July 31, 2020.
To place a bet on GambetDC, you must be 21 years of age and within the legal limits of the district. The app will use your device’s GPS software to determine if you’re inside the district.
The Washington, DC, legislature had much higher hopes for GambetDC when it put the sports betting bill into action. The DC City Council projected that online betting would generate $17 million in revenue by the beginning of October.
This projection couldn’t have been more inaccurate. As of October 2020, GambetDC had only produced just under $900,000 in revenue. This is embarrassing, considering the high hopes that district officials had for the app.
The interface on GambetDC is easy to use, but the odds are extremely difficult to overcome for bettors. This has sent gamblers to retail sportsbooks in Washington, DC.
You can create an account outside of the district, but you must be in the legal area to place a bet on the app. Some areas of Washington, DC, are excluded from the legal betting territory. It’s tough to find a legal place to bet around many of the city’s most prestigious monuments. This isn’t a big deal for players, but it’s an interesting fact about the app.
You also can’t place a bet on GambetDC if you’re within two blocks of Capital One Arena, where the Caesars Sportsbook is located. The retail sportsbooks in the state and the mobile app provide bettors with a very similar betting menu. However, Caesars’ generous odds have made people turn their back on the GambetDC app.
Retail Locations to Bet on Sports in Washington, DC
Retail sportsbooks are not run by the district lottery. They have certain guidelines that they must follow, but they have complete freedom compared to the GambetDC app.
There are no casinos in Washington, DC. However, it allows retail sportsbooks outside of casinos, so this is great for people in and around the district. To open a live sportsbook, a business must receive a license from the DC City Council. This is a tedious process for businesses. The businesses that can open up retail sportsbooks are sports arenas, restaurants, bars, and hotels. There are six retail sportsbooks as of January 2024.
In addition to Capital One Arena, retail sportsbooks are at Audi Field, Nationals Park, St. Elizabeth’s East Entertainment and Sports Arena, Handle 19, Duffy’s Irish Pub, Wet Dog Tavern, and The Brig.
Audi Field (DC United) and Nationals Park (Washington Nationals) host professional sports franchises. People will have the ability to lock in bets pregame and also test their luck on an in-play bet while at the venues.
Restaurants also have a great opportunity to generate a massive amount of betting revenue. The restaurants on this list are hotbeds for Washington sports fans throughout the year. Owners will be able to capitalize on people coming to watch a game at these restaurants.
Sports Teams to Bet on in Washington, DC
Washington, DC, is a great sports area. It has multiple teams in the district to give fans a first-hand betting experience. The first thing to note is that it’s legal to bet on all college sporting events from a Washington, DC, sportsbook. This isn’t the case in many states, so this shows that Washington, DC, is very receptive to the idea of sports betting.
The most popular college program to bet on in Washington, DC, is Georgetown University. The basketball program at Georgetown is consistently a Top 25 program. Georgetown is a member of the Big East Conference. It plays in Capital One Arena, where the Caesars Sportsbook is located. The team is coached by Patrick Ewing. It won one NCAA title in 1984.
Professional Sports Teams
The Washington Commenders is a member of the NFC East in the NFL. Washington’s previous names were the Football Team and the Redskins. Washington has one of the most prestigious franchises in NFL history, having won three Super Bowls. The team is currently coached by Ron Rivera.
The Washington Capitals are a member of the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division in the National Hockey League. Washington plays in Capital One Arena. The team has been operating since 1974 and has won one Stanley Cup in the 2017-18 season. The team is coached by Peter Laviolette. The headlining player and captain in Washington is Alexander Ovechkin.
The Washington Wizards have been playing in the district since 1973 when they were known as the Washington Bullets. The team switched to the current name of the Wizards in 1997. They’re part of the NBA‘s Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division. Current coach Scott Brooks led the team to a division title in 2017.
The Washington Nationals are part of Major League Baseball‘s National League East Division. The team has been operating in Washington since 2005, having moved from Montreal, where it had been known as the Expos. Dave Martinez manages The Nationals. The franchise won the National League Pennant and World Series title in 2019.
Every location where each team plays either has or will have a sportsbook soon. All these teams give bettors a ton of opportunities to place sports bets throughout the year.
FAQ for Sports Betting in Washington, DC
Is sports betting legal in Washington, DC?
Yes, sports betting is legal in Washington, DC. It has been legal in the district since 2018. The mobile book in the state opened in May 2020, and the first retail sportsbook opened in August 2020. Sports betting has been legal throughout the nation since PASPA was deemed unconstitutional in 2018. When this decision was made, states had the discretion to legalize betting.
What’s the difference between the Washington, DC, mobile sportsbook and the various retail books in the state?
The mobile book in the state is run by the Washington, DC, lottery system. The retail books are all independent contractors. Retail books can be opened in sporting arenas, hotels, restaurants, and bars. The main retail sportsbook in the state is located in Capital One Arena and is run by Caesars.
What’s the legal betting age in Washington, DC?
Washington, DC, is one of a few areas in the United States where the legal sports betting age is 18 years of age.
Can I place a bet on the mobile book if I’m not in the District of Columbia?
No, you must be within the legal limits to place a bet on the mobile app. However, you can download the app and register for an account on the app if you’re not in the DC area.
Can I bet on college sports in Washington, DC?
Yes, you can bet on college sports in Washington, DC. There are no restrictions when it comes to betting on local teams or collegiate events within the district.
What are the local professional sports franchises in Washington, DC, that I can bet on?
Washington, DC, has four major professional sports franchises: The Washington Football Team, the Washington Capitals, the Washington Wizards, and the Washington Nationals.