The nation’s capital should have accepted its first legal sports wager this week, but all bets are off until the coronavirus pandemic is over.
The launch of Washington DC sports betting, with Intralot’s “GambetDC” app, was delayed indefinitely by the Office of Lottery and Gaming this week after officials determined not to go live until US sports leagues resume play.
“At this time, almost all professional sports leagues around the world have suspended indefinitely play due to growing concerns around the COVID-19 virus and, as a consequence, there are little-to-no games or bets to offer,” said Nicole Jordan, OLG director of marketing and communications. “This goes for the Lottery’s offering, as well as any other sportsbooks operating in the US and globally.”
“We are revising our sports wagering launch strategy based on the current state of world events, but will be posting information about the platform in the coming days, including introducing the brand and its functionalities,” Jordan added. “The Lottery and Intralot are prepared to launch the platform when it is safe for the sports world to return.”
This week’s postponement from the DC Lottery is the latest in a long list of delays for the city’s first and only mobile sportsbook app.
After waiting patiently for more than a year, residents of the District finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel when officials announced the mobile app would go live by the end of March.
Unfortunately, the dream of DC sportsbooks accepting bets on sports legally have to be suspended until further notice—much like the sporting events they rely on for revenue.
After announcing the delay of GambetDC, the DC Lottery said both Intralot’s mobile app and website had passed all tests and could launch if running a sportsbook during the coronavirus pandemic was worth it.
“The Lottery’s sports wagering mobile and web platforms are tested and ready to go live,” Jordan said. “These platforms would be launched tomorrow if there were live sports available for consumers to [place] wagers.”
To the DC Lottery’s credit, a “better safe than sorry” approach is best during a national emergency.
And pretty much any course of action is better than the in-person only sports betting law enacted in Washington state. The governor and lawmakers endorsing people to place bets at brick-and-mortar tribal casinos during the pandemic is a tragedy waiting to happen.
However, it’s interesting how the DC Lottery technically didn’t have to delay the app’s launch if regulators would have authorized more types of bets.
Legal betting during the coronavirus pandemic is still very much alive at online sportsbooks that are allowed to adapt and offer different ways to wager—but don’t bet on that happening anytime soon in the District of Columbia.