Already ensconced in controversy, Washington, DC Lottery’s GambetDC — the lottery-sponsored sports wagering mobile app — picked the worst possible time to fail iPhone users: During Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Bettors using iPhones and iPads weren’t able to place wagers on the GambetDC app because it was “experiencing a technical issue” that wasn’t rectified prior to the Super Bowl kicking off. Already badly lagging rivals such as the William Hill sportsbook at Capital One Arena, GambetDC likely lost out on significant revenue by not being available to Apple users during the most wagered-on event on the US sports calendar.
DC Lottery issued a statement saying GamBetDC was still available to Android users, and that bettors were able to place Super Bowl wagers through the website and at retail locations scattered across the nation’s capital city. A spokeswoman for the DC Lottery told DCist the freeze-out of Apple users was because of a technical glitch.
The mobile app provider did not obtain approval from Apple for a required update resulting in the temporary removal of the Gambet DC mobile app from the Apple iOS platform,” she said in an email to the publication.
Bettors were offered a free $10 bet for their trouble.
For GambetDC, Woes Mount
From its infancy, GambetDC has been controversial and ineffective at delivering on previous tax-generating estimates.
Prior to rolling out the sports wagering platform, DC Lottery entered a $215 million agreement with Intralot. That was widely criticized because the contract wasn’t put out to bid. Now, it appears some local politicians have buyers’ remorse.
“When 5 [D.C. Council] members including myself voted against this contract, we knew it was bad. But even I didn’t foresee it being this abysmal,” said DC Councilmember Elissa Silverman in a tweet posted on Sunday.
Additionally, GambetDC is falling flat when it comes to generating receipts for the District’s coffers. As DCist reports, the app drove just $4440,000 in revenue for the city from May 2020 to March 2021, while William Hill drove $1.8 million in taxes for the city last year.
Competition Mounting, Too
Widespread criticism of GambetDC since its launch are lines that put bettors at a disadvantage. For example, there were reports of the app offering odds of -115 to -118 (bet $115 or $118 to win $100) on games that would normally carry odds of -110 (bet $110 to win $100).
That condition hasn’t been rectified. As just two examples on tonight’s NBA slate, GambetDC installs the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns at -115 to cover spreads in their respective games. But BetMGM offers those bets at -110.
Technical woes and bunk lines come as DC Lottery faces increasing competition for bettors’ attention and dollars. Beyond William Hill, BetMGM and FanDuel are slated to open sportsbooks at local arenas, and there will be mobile apps associated with those venues.
Additionally, neighboring Maryland and Virginia are homes to fast-growing, vibrant sports wagering markets that are widely open and largely dominated by commercial operators — not lotteries — and there’s evidence to suggest DC residents are going to those states to bet.
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