D.C. Government Bet on Itself & Lost

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Posted by Doug Kellogg on Friday, October 16th, 2020, 4:32 PM PERMALINK

When Washington D.C.’s city council legalized sports betting in the district, they gave a virtual monopoly to the DC Lottery. Rather than having a vibrant market, and competition, that would best serve consumers, councilmembers decided government knew best.

The results have been about what you’d expect from the people who brought you the D.C. Metro – lottery commission sports betting is confusing, and only partially operational.

It took forever to get things started, and the government-ordered app for online betting is clunky and has confusing lines. Despite being the only mobile option, it is losing out to in-person options at sports arenas. Teams are allowed to have sports books in their arenas free of the city government-controlled monopoly.

In a state with modest tax rates on bets and a functioning market, like New Jersey, the majority of bets happen through mobile betting. In D.C., the government’s mobile app only earns a fraction of what one in-person sports book does.

The council was warned against this misguided, heavy-handed government approach. The lottery’s failure to deliver a consumer-friendly experience is on them.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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