Gambling

D.C. Managed To Lose $4 Million on Its Own Sports Betting App

Despite having a near-monopoly on districtwide betting, poor decisions and mismanagement led to millions in losses on GambetDC.

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In gambling, the house always wins. Unless the house is the Washington, D.C., government.

Like a growing number of cities and states, Washington, D.C., allows sports betting. However, bets may only be placed within the confines of designated venues. The only means of placing a bet that is available districtwide is GambetDC, a website and app run by the D.C. Lottery. Reason's Jason Russell described GambetDC as "glitchy," with lower payouts than privately-run betting houses.

Now, as part of a performance oversight hearing, the lottery is claiming it suffered a bad beat.

After the D.C. Council approved sports gambling in the district in 2018, it further authorized a single company to develop the GambetDC app, at a cost of $215 million over five years. In return, the District hoped to see annual tax revenues of $20 million from bets placed. Instead, the lottery admitted this week that the D.C. government only took in about $1.5 million from the app in 2021, its first full year of operation. In fact, after adjusting for the cost of advertising the app, the government actually lost more than $4 million last year.

How is this possible? More than just a glitchy interface, and beyond the decision to spend more than $6 million on advertising, the service was simply unreliable: During this year's Super Bowl, the app was down for iPhone and iPad users. Kenyan McDuffie, who represents D.C.'s Ward 5, expressed concern that the app could see a similar issue with March Madness coming up.

As with many vices, it is better for gambling to be legal than illegal. But the best bet of all is for the government to leave the actual infrastructure of gambling to private parties. In 2021, as GambetDC was hemorrhaging money, Capital One Arena's betting facility earned $1.8 million in tax revenue. Clearly, D.C. should quit while it's behind and leave the table.

NEXT: The FBI Is Hiding an Unpublished Police Use-of-Force Database From FOIA Requesters

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  1. "Competence" is a right-wing trait.

    Change my mind.

    1. Mitch McConnell.

      Did I change your mind?

      1. you made me question "right wing"

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      2. Merrick Garland advises terrorism investigation of parents in Loudoun Co., VA.

        Did I change yours?

        1. He's neither competent nor right wing.

          1. Exactly.

        2. Pretty sure the point was that Garland is not on the SC thanks to Mitch. Call him "Cocaine Mitch" all you want, but he routinely makes Schumer his bitch.

    2. Change my mind.

      *steels gaze*

      Did you just say "lesser black woman"? Because I'm pretty sure I heard you say "lesser black woman".

    3. Is the left more incompetent than the right? Yeah. I'd say so. But that's a whole lot different than saying either is competent.

      1. My thesis isn't that "Republicans are competent", my thesis is that any show of competence is considered "right wing" by the left and therefore eschewed.

    4. I think you mean incompetence.

      1. Read Diane's reply right above.

  2. In fact, after adjusting for the cost of advertising the app, the government actually lost more than $4 million last year.

    A $4 million loss may make this the most successful government program of 2021.

    1. ahhahahahhahahahah well said

    2. winner.

    3. +4,000,000

    4. Too true to be false.

  3. Moltisanti fucked up the numbers game too it takes a while to get it right.

    1. Welcome to the NFL, rookie.

  4. Only the government can lose money in gambling and marijuana.

    1. They had lower payouts than other gambling sites and they still lost money.

      Only the government can fuck up this badly.

  5. also, marketing phone-sports-betting to chicks was a genius move

  6. They didn't lose money, as far as the Liberals are concerned it went to the right people.

  7. it further authorized a single company to develop the GambetDC app, at a cost of $215 million over five years

    Unless the app gives handjobs, that is some seriously fucked up graft.

    1. It's not clear on who paid that $215 million. That's $42 million a year for five years, and I can't imagine how an app and website could take that much money for that long without way too much overhead and incompetence. I'd like to see the original "business plan", how they expected to recoup that investment.

      1. See below and jimc5499 above. The plan is laid out and they don't plan to recoup the investment until they think the taxpayers will drop the hammer on them for it, which probably won't happen until well after DC's statehood and the contract has long expired.

        DC's best bet is to fold, take its chips, and leave the table. Even if they lay out, unequivocally, that that's the plan, even going so far as to specify return the remaining chips to the taxpayers, we all know what's actually going to happen.

        1. As long as the contractors don't keep the loot they spend the money on, they can't be prosecuted. I have been told stories of brand new tricked out contractor vehicles buried in the ground at the end of projects because the state doesn't give a fuck as long as it can't be proved that you profited from the graft.

          Meanwhile, if a tradesmen collects his per-diem and switches to a cheaper hotel, they will prosecute. I saw that first-hand.

    2. There were a few handjobs involved, but not by the app. They were given by female private employees to city council members. (The women on the council received different incentives.)

    3. That is an astonishing amount of money. And a betting app would not be all that complicated to build. Testing would probably be your greatest cost.

      All of this, when they could have contracted with Caesar's or MGM and gotten a guaranteed payout without paying a dime.

  8. After the D.C. Council approved sports gambling in the district in 2018, it further authorized a single company to develop the GambetDC app, at a cost of $215 million over five years. In return, the District hoped to see annual tax revenues of $20 million from bets placed. Instead, the lottery admitted this week that the D.C. government only took in about $1.5 million from the app in 2021, its first full year of operation. In fact, after adjusting for the cost of advertising the app, the government actually lost more than $4 million last year.

    Malory: Why is there all this money from failed casinos everywhere?
    Archer: Atlantic City did that.
    Atlantic City: I-
    Malory: Do you want Trumps? Because that's how you get Trumps!

  9. Oregon started the game with NFL betting back in the day (since they don't have an NFL team, the then-anti-gambling NFL couldn't stop them.

    They set it up so if no one won the big prize (correctly picking the winner vs. the line on X of X games that week), the prize money would roll over to the next week. Eventually the prize grew large enough (even after the state took their cut) that you could guarantee a cash payout by just buying all of the combinations.

    Oregon was surprised when several people did just that and split the pot.

    1. Oregon was surprised when several people did just that and split the pot.

      As long as their cut covered operating expenses, I'd say whether 'the lady doth protest too much' or not is immaterial.

  10. It takes a special kind of incompetence to lose money by running a sports book.

  11. $215 million for a simple betting app is not incompetence, it’s just plain corruption.

  12. Reviews of the app are all like this:

    Atrocious
    GameBetDC = the worst

    The clunky-ness of this app has been written
    about ad nauseam and that fact shouldn't be
    overlooked. If you're used to using Draft Kings
    or Fan Duel in other states, using this app is like
    going back in time and using MS-DOS. Nothing
    intuitive about it. Must have been designed by
    middle schoolers as part of a school project.
    The technological shortcomings aside, the
    customer service is equally awful. I placed a bet
    on an NFL game that ended up being postponed
    to a later date because of COVID. The book
    refused to refund my money!

  13. What is this "cost-benefit" stuff? Does it involved numbers? Sounds racist.

  14. Follow the money man..where did it go? Parties, BMW's, paying off the grifter folks which seem to live off govt "funding." Living large m'fer? The Rev Jesse had this shit down 40 years ago..

    Did you really think this would turn out any different?

    1. It is a real shame there aren't any journalists or media outlets in D.C. to investigate any ties the website developer may have to city council members. You'd think a city of that size would have at least one investigative reporter, not afraid of his life or livelihood, who would be curious enough to see what really happened to the taxpayer's money.

  15. Can they file for Capital losses?

  16. The house in this case is the company that made the app and operated it for DC. I'd be willing to be that *they* didn't lose any money. DC is more like the landlord that is renting space to the people running the casino.

  17. Proof of why things should be done by the private sector as much as possible.

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