Washington, D.C. Gets First-of-Its-Kind Independent Sportsbook at Grand Central

  • Sports bar Grand Central began taking bets as the first independent sportsbook on Monday
  • Elys Gaming Technology powers the sportsbook, with plans to launch a mobile offering next year
  • Grand Central paid $100,000 for the Class B license plus additional costs to develop the offering
  • DC bettors can also wager on GamebetDC by Intralot or the Caesars/William Hill sportsbook 
Scissors cutting red ribbon
Washington, D.C. sports bar Grand Central has launched the district’s first independent sportsbook in partnership with Elys Gaming Technology. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Leading the way in DC

Washington, D.C. residents first gained access to sports betting when the district lottery launched its GamebetDC app in May 2020. A few months later, William Hill took DC’s first retail bets at the Capital One Arena. Now, the district has reached another milestone with a popular sports bar launching the first independent sportsbook.

On Monday, Grand Central in Adams Morgan began taking bets after receiving a Class B sports wagering license. The bar’s official Twitter page posted to announce the grand opening:

Powered by Elys Gaming Technology, the sports betting offering features two betting kiosks and a ticketing window. The bar, which has extended its opening hours to accommodate for a regular influx of bettors, also has plans to launch an accompanying mobile wagering app some time next year.

 It’s one-stop shopping”

Brian Vasile, Grand Central owner, commented on the new sportsbook. “Ours is completely independent, owned and operated by Grand Central and Elys Gaming Technology,” he explained. “Everything’s done in-house here. It’s one-stop shopping and it’s independently owned.”

The journey to launch

Washington, D.C. saw sports betting legalized with the passing of the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act in 2019. As per that legislation, only sports arenas and private establishments such as bars and restaurants can earn sports betting licenses.

the license application cost $100,000

Grand Central received its own Class B license on Monday, but it certainly didn’t come cheap. As reported by WTOP News, the license application cost Grand Central $100,000, while security upgrades, renovations, and infrastructure added tens of thousands of dollars to the price of launch. The bar has also hired 20 new employees to run the betting operations.

On Monday, Washington’s Department of Small and Local Business Development took to Twitter to post some images of its visit to the new sportsbook:

Despite the high cost of launch, Grand Central owner Vasile believes the sportsbook will lead to large profits. He has estimated that the availability of sports betting will boost the bar’s food and beverage sales by around 10%, in addition to the added revenue generated through the wagering itself.

Where else can DC residents bet?

Of course, Grand Central is not the only betting option available to DC gamblers. Powered by Intralot, the GamebetDC app offers mobile wagering everywhere except for four “exclusivity zones” surrounding the district’s sports stadiums. This includes the Capital One Arena, Audi Field, the Entertainment and Sports Arena, and Nationals Park.

Outside of this lottery-run offering, bettors can wager through the Caesars Sportsbook, formerly William Hill, at the Capital One Arena. The retail sportsbook opened in August 2020 and features seven ticket windows and ten kiosks.

The Office of the District of Columbia Auditor recently completed a report into GamebetDC that found its performance well below expectations. Tax revenue generated through DC sports betting between May 2020 and March 2021 amounted to $1.8m, with Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill contributing $1.4m of that total. The district had previously estimated tax would reach $6.2m for that period.

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