Washington, DC Moves Towards Competitive Sports Betting Market

Washington, DC moving towards a competitive sports betting market
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Washington, DC could soon allow multiple operators to conduct mobile sports wagering in the District. This development follows City Council member Kenyan McDuffie’s (I-At Large) amendment to broaden the market, which was included in the council’s proposed budget for fiscal 2025, passed on Tuesday. McDuffie introduced the Sports Wagering Amendment Act of 2024 in March. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) still needs to approve the budget, but if she does, it could open the door to more than one mobile sports betting option in the city. Currently, FanDuel holds a monopoly on mobile betting in the US capital.

Background and Current Situation

FanDuel, a unit of Flutter Entertainment, took over online sports betting in Washington, DC in April after the city council allowed Intralot to subcontract its responsibilities. Intralot previously managed the much-criticized GambetDC app.

Last month, representatives from BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, and Fanatics Betting & Gaming testified before the Washington, DC City Council’s Business and Economic Development Committee. They advocated for a more competitive mobile sports betting landscape in the city.

Potential Market Expansion

If the sports wagering market in Washington, DC is liberalized, forcing FanDuel to relinquish its monopoly, several well-known industry players would likely seek entry.

Currently, BetMGM (operating at Nationals Park) and Caesars Sportsbook (at Capital One Arena) have retail sportsbooks at professional sports venues in the city. These operators, along with rivals like DraftKings and Fanatics, would almost certainly pursue licenses if the District opens up to mobile wagering competition.

A decision to expand the market could be financially motivated. FanDuel paid a $5 million conversion fee to the Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG) to take over the Intralot deal and promises $2 million to $4 million in annual operating payments to the city. If several other gaming companies made similar financial commitments, the expansion could become a significant revenue source for the city.

However, market share dynamics present a challenge. While Washington, DC is an attractive market for sportsbook firms, there is no guarantee that sufficient competition to FanDuel would materialize. In the first quarter in neighboring Virginia, FanDuel commanded a market share of 40.14%, more than DraftKings and BetMGM combined.

Opposition and Challenges

FanDuel is expected to resist the idea of losing its monopoly in DC. Additionally, small businesses that host sports wagering kiosks might oppose the open market. These FanDuel-operated machines are found in 63 locations across the city, including bars and lottery retailers, and have become important revenue streams for these establishments.

Retailers with these kiosks fear that if more mobile wagering options are permitted in the District, bettors will be less inclined to use the kiosks. McDuffie believes that other gaming companies could provide comparable devices to businesses should the Washington market be liberalized.

Conclusion

The potential for a competitive sports betting market in Washington, DC marks a significant shift from the current monopoly held by FanDuel. While the proposed changes could bring substantial financial benefits to the city and expand options for bettors, they also face resistance from existing stakeholders. As the situation develops, the approval of Mayor Muriel Bowser and subsequent implementation will be closely watched by the industry and the public alike.