BusinessStacy M. Brown

Wanna Bet? Sports Gambling All the Rage in D.C., Nation

Whether you’re a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Kansas City Chiefs, Super Bowl LV’s real winner — at least in the pocketbook — were legal sports betting outlets.

According to Legal Sports Report, the 12 states and Washington D.C. have reported full or preliminary handle, and results have totaled more than $437 million.

Handle is the amount of money wagers accepted.

The previous Super Bowl took in about $280 million from legal sports betting.

While D.C. officials do not collect figures on Super Bowl bets, the nation’s capital counted among those around the country to offer residents a chance at easy money.

“Legalized sports betting and gaming is definitely enjoying unprecedented momentum. Right now, most companies are in hyper-growth mode, so market share is very important,” Yaniv Sherman, senior vice president and head of U.S. operations at 888 Holdings, one of the world’s most popular online gaming companies and solutions provider, told the Washington Informer this week.

Sherman added that sports betting has become more popular because of recent state regulations that eliminated concerns companies had about their technology.

He noted that policymakers prioritize gaming and are trying to get more tax dollars to cover growing budget deficits.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a federal ban on sports betting and allowed states to legalize gambling.

Many states, and the District of Columbia, have hopped aboard in large part because of budget problems.

Others have resisted the large tax dollars resulting from long-held opposition to gambling and, in some cases, because of tribal relationships that prohibit sports betting.

In January, BETMGM began offering retail and online sports betting in partnership with the Washington Nationals.

The partnership reportedly includes a sportsbook connected to Nationals Park and a mobile app near the stadium.

BETMGM retail sportsbook plans to launch Sports Betting in Washington DC this summer.

The launch adds competition to D.C. Lottery, GambetDC, which launched in May 2020 and offered sports betting app; and the William Hill sportsbook, which launched in the District region in December.

According to legalsportsreport.com, GambetDC reported $18.7 million in handle in 2020 and $3.5 million in revenue.

Meanwhile, William Hill reported $49.4 million in handle and $8.2 million in revenue from late July through November.

The website noted that the gap should widen after William Hill launched its mobile app late last month.

The app can only be used within a two-block radius of Capital One Arena but should help reduce the sometimes hours-long wait to use the retail betting kiosks.

Additionally, FanDuel Sportsbook signed an agreement with MLS team D.C. United to offer sports betting. It is a move that legalsportsreport.com said will put a FanDuel Sportsbook at Audi Field, which is just 0.2 miles away from Nationals Park.

FanDuel expects to launch sports betting in D.C. this year as well.

Both Maryland and Virginia are reportedly planning to launch sports betting this year.

“Virginia is well-positioned, not only because it is a relatively large market, but because it will likely capitalize on Washington, D.C., a legal market that has left some bettors frustrated,” Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayVirginia, told the gaming site, yogonet.com.

“In addition to Washington, D.C., Virginia may also draw from Baltimore — at least until Maryland launches sports betting, as well as North Carolina. Having so many large markets so close by has been a boon for states like New Jersey, the nation’s largest sports betting market, and Indiana,” Ramsey stated.

He added that Virginia would launch as a solely online market, which is a relative rarity.

“As the legalization of sports betting spreads throughout the nation, regulators should not lose sight of the fact that gambling has the potential to destroy lives,” Sascha Paruk of SportsBettingDime.com told the Washington Informer.

“In order to ensure legal sports betting is a net positive for society, legislators should strongly consider codifying loss limits and earmark portions of the taxable revenue for addiction support,” Paruk continued.

So, how much do people spend, and how much do they win?

One study from 2018 found that more than 60 percent of eSports fans spent $566 on average on different aspects of the game, with 75 percent of the money wagering on eSports.

“I won smaller amounts of money but because I’m biased, being in the industry. I do it just for fun, and I play just enough to cover drinks or a night out with my friends,” offered Stefan Ateljevic of the U.K. sports gambling site BetBlokes.

“On the other hand, my uncle, who is an avid sports fan, managed to win enough to remodel his house, but I think he’s just an exception rather to the rule. Betting can be fun, but it is super addictive, and we should be aware of the consequences it brings if done in excess,” Ateljevic warned.

Though there is no specific breakdown on who bets and how much, African Americans and other minorities certainly participate.

“[Minorities] do bet. However, in some cases, where religious practices forbid it, they will not gamble and will avoid gambling altogether,” Ateljevic observed.

He said the attraction of gambling “is rooted in our DNA.”

“Our ancestors had to risk their lives frequently to hunt down foods. Even the animals that were life-threatening for them were worth risking their lives for,” Ateljevic surmised.

“In a nutshell, our ancestors gambled with their lives for the prize of getting food. The reward for the risk is ingrained in us, and it is less likely it will give up on us.”

DC Lottery officials said if gambling is causing a problem in your life, they encourage you to ask questions, gather information, and conduct research on the type of help that is most appropriate for your situation.

For assistance, visit Gamblers Anonymous at www.gamblersanonymous.org.

Call: 1-800-522-4700

Text: 1-800-522-4700

Chat: ncpgambling.org/chat

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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