DC councilmember looks to expand mobile sports betting

Big changes could be in store for the District’s sports wagering program.

"Gambet [DC] stinks, we haven’t seen the revenue we thought we would, it’s very user-unfriendly, it crashed on the Super Bowl," Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I – At-Large) told FOX 5. "I mean we’re one of the only sports betting operations that is not making money."

It's why Silverman introduced legislation this week that would allow sports betting apps like FanDuel and DraftKings to enter the D.C. market. 

Currently, only one app, GambetDC, is allowed to operate city-wide. 

Officials express mixed reviews over DC's sports betting operation

Silverman pointed out that GambetDC was supposed to bring the District roughly $25 million annually but actually lost $4 million in its first full year.

"It was a failure in terms of good government because we never should have done a sole-source contract, and it’s been a failure in operation," Silverman said.

The legislation has garnered some support.

Well-known professional gambler Jack Andrews, who runs the website Unabated.com, told FOX 5, "Washington, D.C.’s gambling environment is pretty weak."

"I am very happy for the bettors in D.C. who have suffered for a few years with this current solution," Andrews said. "I think competition would be great for them, and it would help grow the market which then, in turn, grows jobs and grows tax revenue. It’s a win, win, win for all parties involved."

Still, some others disagree. 

A coalition of District faith leaders sent Silverman a letter, writing in part, "expanding gambling essentially means to expand crime, addiction, and poverty."

"Betting is set up for the business to win, not for the community to win," Rev. George C. Gilbert, Jr. of The Center for Racial Equity and Justice said Tuesday. "It will have a negative effect on our constituents, it will have a negative effect on the least, the lost, and the left out."

Silverman said that the legislation still has a long way to go, adding that she doesn’t see new sportsbooks entering the D.C. market until the fall of 2023 at the earliest.

FOX 5 reached out to GambetDC for comment but did not immediately hear back.