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Intralot under fire over ‘terrible’ Gambet DC betting app

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The Washington DC Council during its oversight hearing has criticized Gambet DC, its sole sports betting operator, for being unprofitable despite operating as a monopoly. This is coming amidst suggestions to open up the sports betting industry in the region to allow more operators with reputable apps.

Launched in 2020, Gambet DC was supposed to be the sports betting solution for residents of the city, who previously had to travel beyond the border into Virginia to place bets. However, much to the chagrin of the city’s residents and officials, the app has proved to be mediocre at best, and at worst a money-draining enterprise.

With its uncompetitive betting lines, poor app aesthetics and little contribution to the city’s bottom line, there have been renewed calls to end the app’s monopoly. Already, in October 2022, Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) made a proposal to terminate the app contract of the app’s operator – Intralot – at its conclusion.

READ: Washington DC awards sports betting contract to Intralot

“The odds are terrible, and they don’t exactly have the impetus — I know they’re trying to balance generating as much revenue as possible for the city, which is laudable. However, the product that they’ve produced to do that isn’t generating that money because nobody has any interest in it,” said Michelle Minton, who works for the Reason Foundation.

“Were they an employee, they would be fired. If they were an elected official, they would not be re-elected.”

In a show of bullish support for the app, head of DC Lottery, Frank Suarez, said the app is currently positioned to profit the city more than private operators would, especially with its monopoly status. He pointed out that the app is doing better now than ever and in the coming days will experience more growth.

For the 2022 fiscal year, the Gambet DC app recorded a 59% increase in the number of wagers, with total money wagered rising to 38%, which amounts to $2.7 million in revenue. While these figures might look decent, it is far from what the city expected.

When Gambet DC was in the works, it was projected to generate $20 million per year for the city. In its first year, rather than earn revenue, Gambet DC cost the city $4 million dollars, mostly in marketing expenses.

Despite its rocky start, Suarez believes Gambet is doing well. He added that on a per capita basis, the app’s model of operation makes it generate more tax revenue for the city compared to neighboring areas like Maryland.

“We wanted to make sure that we were being conservative in regards to Maryland’s impact, not knowing what Maryland was really going to do to our numbers,” Suarez said.

Despite the improved figures, public perception of the app is still very low.

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