Washington DC Retail Sports Betting Launch Delayed

  • DC retail sportsbooks are delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic
  • Gambling operator staffers have been unable to travel to proposed sportsbook sites
  • Online sports betting has been slow since launching in the District on May 28
"Delayed" notice on airport flight status board
The DC Office of Lottery and Gaming has said that retail sportsbooks in Washington, DC will not be open until summer 2021 because of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Yet another delay

While mobile sports betting is now live in Washington, DC, retail sportsbooks will not be opening until summer 2021.

The DC Office of Lottery and Gaming announced the delay last week. It had originally planned to launch retail operations in time for the 2020 football season.

According to the Washington Business Journal, the DC Lottery’s executive director, Beth Bresnahan, broke the news at a budget oversight hearing for the City Council’s business and economic development committee, citing the coronavirus pandemic for the delay.

supply chains for gaming equipment coming from outside of the United States have been strained

The pandemic has created a couple of obstacles to getting brick-and-mortar sports betting off the ground in the nation’s capital. It has made it tough for technology workers from the gaming operators to be able to get to the sportsbook locations. Secondly, supply chains for gaming equipment coming from outside of the United States have been strained.

Retail sportsbooks will now miss out on the lucrative football season, the most popular sport for betting in the country, as well as the NHL and NBA seasons, which are set to resume in the coming weeks.

Future DC sportsbook landscape

Two different types of retail sports betting licenses will be available. Class A licenses are reserved for the major sports arenas in the district, such as the Capital One Arena, home of the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals. Capital One has already partnered with William Hill to operate its sportsbook. 

Class B licenses will be available to restaurants and bars that are within a two-block radius of the Class A venues. The DC Lottery is currently reviewing seven retail sportsbook applications.

Online sports betting hitting some bumps

Less than two weeks ago, May 28 saw online sports betting finally launch in the District following numerous delays and controversies. Unfortunately for the DC Lottery’s sports betting site, GamBetDC, it launched at a time when there were very few betting options because of the pandemic. It also launched for browser use only, as the mobile app is not yet ready.

just 640 accounts had been created on GamBetDC

By June 3, just 640 accounts had been created on GamBetDC and only 150 deposits had been made, according to the DC Lottery. In total, $11,295 had been bet on mixed martial arts, darts, soccer, and football futures.