In a press release issued this week, the UK-based, Caesars-owned sportsbook, William Hill, announced the launch of mobile wagering in Washington DC.
Well, sort of, as the company’s mobile sports betting app is only available in a small geographic area around the William Hill retail sportsbook at Capital One Arena.
Mobile Betting App… With a Catch
Hill’s Sports Book App in Washington DC looks promising, offering, as per the press release:
“… a betting experience with a broad and deep array of markets and bet types, including Parlay Cards and live InPlay wagering for their favorite teams, all at a tap of a finger.”
But here’s the thing: The app is only available for use within a two-block radius around Capital One Arena, where William Hill has temporarily set up shop. And like the DC Lottery’s sports betting app, GamebetDC, the William Hill sports betting app will not take bets inside federal buildings, which are plentiful in DC.
DC gambling laws include an ‘exclusion zone’ around professional sports venues that have sports betting within their confines.
William Hill holds a Class A sports betting license, a category created for sportsbook licensees located inside one of the city’s sports stadiums/arenas. William Hill is the exclusive betting partner for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals, and WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
Thus, bettors will have to make a physical trip to the arena if they want to use the William Hill app. It is not true mobile betting in the overall scheme of things, but it will still give players a wider range of markets and avoid queues at the physical location. The app also serves the purpose of letting event attendees and fans bet from their seats or nearby bars and restaurants.
The app, which received the go-ahead from the DC Office of Lottery and Gaming, includes a quick and secure registration process, as well as various options to deposit and withdraw funds. It’s available on Apple and Android devices.
William Hill vs. GamebetDC
Last month, William Hill took in $13.7 million in bets – 3.5 times higher than DC Lottery’s GambetDC. What makes that number impressive is William Hill is a retail book, and Gambet is an online betting app.
That says more about DC’s online betting shortcomings than it does about William Hill’s retail success, as the total DC sports betting handle since the market launched in May 2020 is just $63.8 million.
The disparity between William Hill and the Intralot-powered GamebetDC will undoubtedly widen with the new sportsbook app’s launch. GamebetDC generated handle of $3.9 million to Will Hill’s $13.7 million in November 2020.
The DC lottery’s app made a soft launch in May this year and didn’t make a great first impression. After awarding a non-bid contract to Intralot in July 2019, the state was sued over its handling of the bidding process. This was followed by pandemic issues, which shut down all sports and left practically nothing to wager on.
Washington DC had hoped to have sports betting ready to meet the 2019 NFL season but hit multiple snags along the way.
The response to the launch of GamebetDC in May was lukewarm, and the brand hasn’t managed to leverage its popularity. Despite the fact that GamebetDC is the only mobile platform that will be available citywide.
GamebetDC has also been criticized for its pricing, routinely charges much higher vig than William Hill’s retail book, which helps explain retail outperforming mobile in the market.
William Hill Hopes to Make a Permanent DC Home in 2021
William Hill launched its pop-up sportsbook at Capital One Arena in July 2020. The book is open seven days a week and has seven ticket windows and ten kiosks.
The group hoped to open its permanent sportsbook inside the arena by the fall of 2020. That never materialized, and it had to push back the date due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the latest press release, William Hill “will be debuting a cutting-edge, full-service Sports Book and restaurant there in early 2021, a first-of-its-kind sports fan experience inside a professional sports complex.”
The permanent venue will take the place of the former Greene Turtle bar at the arena.
Expanding Footprint in US Market
Since William Hill launched its first mobile offering in 2012, it has gone on to operate mobile sports betting apps in eight US jurisdictions:
William Hill also powers the trading services for the Rhode Island Lottery mobile app.