DC Councilmember Elissa Silverman Defends New Sports Betting Bill

Written By Giovanni Shorter on October 25, 2022
washington d.c. sports betting

Following word of the expanded sports betting bill in Washington D.C., TheLines spoke with the bill’s main sponsor Councilmember Elissa Silverman. The Sports Wagering and Fair Competition Amendment Act of 2022 aims to end the exclusivity agreement with Intralot.

Intralot is partnered with the DC Lottery to run GambetDC. Within Washington D.C., this is the only option for mobile sports betting.

Councilmember Silverman Pushes For More Betting Options

The councilmember discussed her initial motivation for pushing the measure. The primary motivation stemmed from underwhelming GambetDC performance.

“It’s the poor performance of our lottery sports betting program, GambetDC. It’s not bringing in the revenue that we thought. It poorly performed on the Super Bowl,” said Silverman told TheLines.

GambetDC has run into several issues since betting went live in the District of Columbia. The mobile sportsbook has been plagued with bugs and even shut down during Super Bowl LVI. GambetDC also consistently loses out to sportsbooks like Caesars Sportsbook, because GambetDC only offers limited mobile betting. D.C. residents simply have not embraced the product.

“I’ve always been skeptical of having a monopoly on our sports betting operation,” continued Silverman. “So for all those reasons, the biggest one being, if we’re going to have sports gambling, we need to make money from it. That is the reason we have it. A revenue generator for programs that I care about.”

Maryland Online Sportsbooks Not A Big Motivator For Bill

The timing of this bill comes during Maryland’s push for mobile sports betting. Maryland is projected to go live before the end of 2022. Despite this coincidence, when asked if the bill was motivated by Maryland, Silverman said no.

“We just had a lot of moving parts. The timing of us introducing this bill had nothing to do with Maryland going online soon. But I will say that yes, it is a concern.”

It is no secret that Washington D.C.’s proximity to Virginia made it extremely difficult for GambetDC to flourish. Locals could easily travel across the border to bet on other sportsbook apps.

“One of the biggest arguments that was made to councilmembers to take this sole-source contract monopoly approach was to be the first mover before Maryland and Virginia,” said Silverman. “Well, we did that. Virginia now has legalized sports gambling. And what I hear from our residents who are frustrated with the lottery’s app is they’re just driving to Arlington, Virginia. They’re just driving across the Potomac river to bet on sports with their phones.”

Is There Optimism For The Bill To Pass?

Councilmember Silverman believes in the bill and her fellow councilmembers to see the failings of GambetDC. Despite promises of improvement by Intralot and the D.C. Lottery, Silverman believes that lawmakers will side with the bill.

“I’m confident that my colleagues know that what we are doing right now isn’t working,” said Silverman “I just think, at this point, if Intralot thinks they have a superior product that can compete with DraftKings and FanDuel … But they haven’t brought a superior product to the market which is why residents are going to Virginia now to use the other apps.”

Silverman does anticipate some changes being made to the bill before it reaches a final vote. The councilmember also believes that despite this, lawmakers will advance the bill and come to some consensus. This bill could potentially change the entire betting landscape in Washington D.C. moving forward.

“I think the whole point of this from a government perspective is to get revenue. And the programs are losing money right now.”

Giovanni Shorter Avatar
Written by
Giovanni Shorter

Giovanni Shorter is a sports enthusiast and writer with a passion for the legal and industry side of the sports betting market. Giovanni got his education from Florida State University where he honed his writing style writing narratives and short stories. He has spent his professional career covering sports and entertainment through articles and blogs and continues to look at the industry from multiple angles.

View all posts by Giovanni Shorter