Washington, DC legalized sports betting in late 2018, and both online and retail betting are live in the nation’s capital. DC sports betting isn’t a free for all, as the district lottery controls online betting and retail operators require licenses before they can accept any bets.
Despite the availability of both in-person and online wagering, retail betting is far more popular in the district. The government monopoly over online betting has deterred fans from placing bets through the GambetDC app, and instead they’re flocking to approved locations where they can bet in person.
There are no casinos in the district, so approved locations like major sporting arenas and hotels, bars, and restaurants can open sportsbooks.
Let’s get into the details and explore why retail betting has been far more popular than online wagering in Washington, DC.
Washington, DC Sports Betting at a Glance
Washington, DC was one of the earliest adopters of legal sports betting in the United States.
Sports betting was against federal law in most of the United States from 1992 until May 14, 2018, when the Supreme Court nullified the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA.)
This decision gave each state the right to determine whether sports betting should be legal and available within their borders. City council is responsible for regulating local industries in Washington, DC.
DC councilmembers voted to legalize sports betting in December of 2018 with Bill 22-944, the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018. The act was officially signed into law in early 2019, and the first bets were placed in 2020.
The district lottery launched the GambetDC app in May 2020, and it’s the only platform fans in DC can use to place sports bets online. The first retail bets came through in August 2020 at the William Hill sportsbook located in Capital One Arena.
The William Hill sportsbook saw $12.2 million in betting volume, otherwise known as the handle, in September of 2020 alone. On the other hand, the GambetDC app only had a $3.3 million handle that month, which is extremely low when you consider the convenience of betting online.
So, why is betting in person more popular than online wagering in DC?
Best Washington, DC Sports Betting Apps
Fans in DC can place bets on mobile platforms like the William Hill app so long as they’re physically at the William Hill sportsbook in Capital One Arena.
If they’re not at the retail sportsbook, online sports betting is only available through the district lottery. The lottery has one platform, GambetDC, powered by the Greek company Intralot.
Fans have been apprehensive to use this app for a few reasons. Even though it’s the only way to place bets online in DC, retail betting is vastly outperforming GambetDC.
Intralot is notorious for providing bad betting lines that deter fans from getting in on the action. Their pricing tends to be very one-sided, favoring their own platforms like GambetDC.
Not only are their betting lines bad, but their vig is much higher than their competitors. Here is a quick rundown of what is Vig and why it’s important in sports betting. Let’s compare GambetDC lines and vig with the local competitor at Capital One Arena, William Hill.
Game: Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, November 22nd, 2020.
GambetDC lines: Titans (+185) at Ravens (-270)
William Hill lines: Titans (+200) at Ravens (-240)
GambetDC vig: 8.26%
William Hill vig: 4.76%
If you put $100 on the Titans with William Hill at Capital One Arena, your payout would be $200, while GambetDC would only give you $185 for the same wager. Their vig for this matchup is almost double that of William Hill, so it’s easy to see who’s providing better value here.
GambetDC and the district lottery have a monopoly on the online betting market in DC, so they have no real reason to offer any bonuses. They might be more competitive with retailers like William Hill if they start offering incentives for fans looking to bet online.
Fans in DC have seen these lucrative sign-up offers advertised elsewhere, adding insult to injury. They’ve decided traveling to places like Capital One Arena is worth the effort, as opposed to sacrificing their payouts for the convenience of GambetDC.
Legal Sports Betting in Washington, DC
Online Sports Betting in Washington, DC
GambetDC is the only way to bet on sports online in Washington, DC. Users must be 18 years or older and physically located within the district to place any bets.
Online betting volume has not met initial expectations set by DC councilmembers. The city initially projected online betting to bring in $17 million for the city by October 1st, 2020.
Since its launch in May through October of 2020, GambetDC has only brought in $890,000 in profit for the city. Unless Washington, DC adjusts their online betting laws, retail wagering will remain far more popular within the district.
Best Places to Bet in Washington, DC
Because Washington, DC doesn’t have any casinos, other venues are providing retail sports betting opportunities. They need the right license before they can accept bets of any kind.
There are two types of licenses establishments can apply for if they want to offer retail sports betting.
Class A licenses are available to major sports arenas in the district. These licenses last for five years and cost $250,000. Venues with this license include:
- Audi Field
- Capital One Arena
- Nationals Park
- Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena
The William Hill sportsbook at Capital One Arena is the only operator from the above list currently accepting bets. They have a few pop-up kiosks already in operation, and they plan to open a permanent sportsbook at the arena in 2021.
This permanent location will feature 10 self-service kiosks, 12 ticket windows, a large event space, and two VIP areas.
Places like hotels, bars, and restaurants must apply for a Class B license if they want to offer in-person sports wagering. Class B licenses cost $50,000 and last for five years.
A new venue by the name of Handle 19 is set to be the first Class B sportsbook in Washington, DC. They’re anticipating a late 2020 launch, and Handle 19 will feature an independent sportsbook powered by USBookmaking.
Handle 19 plans to offer a mobile app that fans can use to place bets while they’re visiting. Bettors would not be able to use this app anywhere else in Washington, DC.
Other local establishments like Duffy’s Irish Pub, Wet Dog Tavern, and The Brig have already applied for Class B licenses, but sports betting isn’t available at these smaller venues yet.
Here’s more information on the venues, all of which we expect to have retail sports betting available in the near future:
|Audi Field||TBD||100 Potomac Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024||TBD|
|Capital One Arena||William Hill||601 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004||Monday to Friday: 11am – 11pm
Saturday & Sunday: 9am – 11pm
|Nationals Park||TBD||1500 S Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003||TBD|
|St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena||TBD||1100 Oak St SE, Washington, DC 20032||TBD|
|Handle 19||Independent||319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003||TBD|
|Duffy’s Irish Pub||TBD||1016 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002||Monday: 4pm – 11pm
Tuesday to Thursday: 4pm – 12am
Friday & Saturday: 11:30am – 2am
Sunday: 11:30am – 2am
|Wet Dog Tavern||TBD||2100 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001||TBD|
|The Brig||TBD||1007 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003||Monday & Tuesday: 3pm – 11pm
Wednesday & Thursday: 3pm – 12am
Friday & Saturday: 11am – 12am
Sunday: 11am – 11pm
*Hours are subject to change due to COVID-19
Washington, DC Sports Betting Rules & Restrictions
The legal betting age in Washington, DC is 18 years or older. This applies to both online and retail betting.
Online betting in DC comes with rules and restrictions you should be aware of.
Per the GambetDC website, online registration can be completed remotely, all you have to do is validate an email address. You can register from anywhere, but you must be within the District of Columbia to place any bets.
The GambetDC app has a geo-fencing feature that checks the user’s location to make sure they’re betting within Washington, DC. There are certain areas in DC where you can’t bet online through GambetDC, like the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial.
You can’t place any bets on GambetDC if you’re within two blocks of a major stadium like Capital One Arena.
Once you’ve registered, you’ll be asked to provide one of the following documents to verify your account:
- Social security card
- State-issued ID card
- Driver’s license
- Valid passport
Otherwise, online and retail sportsbooks share similar guidelines for betting within the district.
You can bet on major league sports, activities like darts, cycling, and tennis, as well as college and university teams located outside of Washington, DC. You cannot bet on any local college teams, regardless of where they’re playing.
If you’re looking for alternative betting options in nearby regions, you could drive to Dover, Delaware in under two hours. Neighboring states like Maryland and Virginia have legalized sports betting, but wagering isn’t available there yet.
It’s unclear if eSports betting will be allowed within DC, and there are no sportsbooks offering eSports bets in the region at this time. See the full list for more information on sporting events you can bet on in Washington, DC.
The DC Office of Lottery and Gaming regulates all things sports betting within the district. Check out their District Operated Sports Wagering rulemaking document for all the details.
Local Teams Worth a Bet
Washington, DC has a rich and exciting sports scene that has kept fans at the edge of their seats for many years.
If you want to get in on the action, there’s no shortage of local teams to put your money on. Some of the most popular teams in the area include:
- Washington Capitals
- Washington Football Team
- Washington Nationals
- Washington Wizards
Washington, DC Sports Betting History
2018: On May 14, 2018, The United States Supreme Court overturned PASPA, ending the federal ban on sports betting.
In September of 2018, DC councilmember Jack Evans introduced the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018, also known as Bill 22-944.
Councilmember Evans modified the amendment in November of 2018 to include a 0.25% integrity fee. This meant that sportsbooks in the district would be taxed by this amount on all revenue, but the council voted out the integrity fee proposal.
Sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel pushed for licenses in the district, but city council retained the single-operator model run by the district lottery.
In December of 2018, Bill 22-944 was passed through the district legislature, effectively legalizing sports betting in Washington, DC.
2019: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 in January, and the legislation cleared congressional review in May of 2019 to officially become law.
By October, William Hill had announced they would be opening a retail sportsbook inside Capital One Arena in 2020.
2020: In May of 2020, the DC lottery had announced the launch of GambetDC, and the platform began accepting bets in June.
By the end of July, the William Hill sportsbook had opened in Capital One Arena. This service was the first of its kind within a major US sports venue.
Washington, DC Sports Betting FAQs
Is sports betting legal in Washington, DC?
Yes, both online and retail sports betting are legal and available in Washington DC. Online betting is only provided through the district lottery and the GambetDC platform.
Where can I place bets on sports in Washington, DC?
What is the legal age to make bets in Washington, DC?
The legal betting age in Washington, DC is 18 or older.
Find the Best Places to Bet on Sports
Sports betting is legal and currently available in Washington, DC, but things are constantly changing elsewhere in the US. Check out our state by state legal tracker to stay on top of the latest legal sports betting updates nationwide.
If you’re looking for the best places to bet on sports outside of DC, you can find detailed reviews and the best bonus offers with our list of recommended betting sites.
We update the information here as new betting outlets become available in DC, so make sure you stay up to date by visiting this page every so often.