News & Politics

DC Bets on FanDuel for Its Sports Gambling App, Folds on GambetDC

The proprietary app fell short of revenue projections—and bettors’ standards.

As Kenny Rogers once sang, a gambler has to know when to fold ‘em—and that’s what DC did Saturday, announcing it would ditch its proprietary GambetDC betting app in favor of one run by gambling giant FanDuel.

The FanDuel-run app is set to launch sometime this spring, according to a press release from DC’s Office of Lottery and Gaming, which manages the District’s sports betting contracts. 

GambetDC, devised by the Greek gaming company Intralot, opened its books in May 2020 and was nearly immediately met with criticism from prospective bettors, who decried the app’s glitchy interface. Most famously, the app crashed during the Super Bowl in 2022.

But GambetDC didn’t just fall short of user expectations—it also lagged behind revenue projections. In January, The Washington Post reported the app had brought in just over $4.3 million of revenue since going live, compared to an initial projection of $84 million by that point. In the industry that gave birth to the phrase “the house always wins,” GambetDC somehow lost $4 million in its first year of operation.

According to sports betting reporter and consultant Dustin Gouker, another factor in GambetDC going bust may have been the odds the app offered—which often led to less lucrative payouts than competitors such as MGM or DraftKings.

“In the long term, a bettor is not gonna win as much as they would have won at another sportsbook,” said Gouker, who also runs The Closing Line Substack on sports betting. “Someone who’s in DC can just go into Virginia and Maryland and see a better app with better lines.”

While bettors in Maryland and Virginia can place wagers through a number of sportsbooks, GambetDC’s contract—five years, $215 million, awarded without a bid—made it the only show in town for many District gamblers. (DC users also can place online bets on BetMGM and Caesars within a few blocks of their physical kiosk locations inside Nationals Park and Capital One Arena, respectively.)

That near-exclusivity will continue with FanDuel. In a statement to Washingtonian, Melissa Davis, a spokesperson for DC’s Office of Lottery and Gaming, said her office still “believes that maintaining a District-operated sportsbook as the sole mobile and online operator best accomplishes its mission to maximize revenue for the District.”

But the shift away from GambetDC and toward an established vendor, Gouker argues, will help the city earn more revenue. 

“The fact that the app performed so badly when it was the only game in town is sort of a smoking gun,” Gouker said. “FanDuel’s gonna come in instantly and change that.”

Arya Hodjat
Editorial Fellow