Sportsbook Operators Calling for Competitive Market in DC to Stop FanDuel Monopoly

  • Major sportsbooks support a bill that would create a competitive market
  • Caesars and BetMGM both already have retail sportsbooks in the district
  • The DC Lottery is set to extend Intralot’s contract by another two years
Washington DC
Major sportsbook operators are supporting a bill that aims to end FanDuel’s online sports betting monopoly in Washington DC. [Image:]

Calling for equal opportunity

The sports betting scene in Washington DC has faced issue after issue since launching for the first time in May 2020. The sole online platform available for a long time across the district was GambetDC and underwhelming results meant that city officials started looking elsewhere, ultimately choosing FanDuel to take over.

can only offer digital wagering within a two-mile radius of the stadium or arena

Other online sportsbooks are only permitted if an operator partners with one of the professional sports teams in the region. Even then it can only offer digital wagering within a two-mile radius of the stadium or arena.

That’s why Fanatics Sportsbook, DraftKings, Caesars Sportsbook, and BetMGM are calling for an open market across the district. Representatives of each of these brands appeared at a Business and Economic Development Public hearing last week regarding the matter. They expressed their support for a bill that DC Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie introduced in March that would create a competitive sports betting sector.

Supporting a new bill

Caesars Sportsbook has a retail operation running at the Capital One Arena and BetMGM has a similar offering at Nationals Park. They both saw decent results during the GambetDC reign and believe that this is now under threat with FanDuel taking over.

While Fanatics and DraftKings don’t yet have a foothold in the district, the latter’s Government Affairs Manager Matt Scalf said that the company is already in advanced discussions with a team license holder and expects to strike a partnership soon.  

BetMGM asked the lawmaker to maintain the 10% tax rate on retail sportsbooks

The only piece of negative feedback from operators to McDuffie’s bill was in regard to tax rate. BetMGM asked the lawmaker to maintain the 10% tax rate on retail sportsbooks and not make it the same as the 20% online rate. The operator said this would prevent the physical establishments from having to close.

A long shot

The chances of any major changes happening in the near future look slim. FanDuel only took over from GambetDC in April and this transition is already proving to be more successful than the previous regime.

DC Lottery Executive Director Frank Suarez revealed during the most recent meeting that FanDuel’s total handle in its initial two weeks was $14m, which surpasses GambetDC’s total for February and March added together.

Intralot is the Greek-based company that has the contract to run the sports betting market in the district, with FanDuel acting as a subcontractor. It entered an agreement with the DC Lottery in July 2019 and while the current deal is up this summer, the DC Lottery has already proposed extending the deal for another two years.

This would give officials sufficient time to develop a framework to run a competitive bidding process for the next contract. The big obstacle to changing the sports betting framework soon is that the lottery and sports betting sectors are tied up in the Intralot contract. Legislation is required to undo this arrangement, according to a lottery lawyer.

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