After eighteen months of tumult and delays, the DC Lottery has finally launched its online sports betting product.
Unfortunately for players, the lines are as substandard as the name: GambetDC.
Poor lines have become one of the predominant themes of the nascent U.S. sports betting industry, in large part due to legislators making ill-fitted decisions like putting lotteries in charge.
Recently, we saw this same scenario play out in Montana, where the Montana Lottery, in conjunction with supplier Intralot, drew the scorn of bettors due to horrific pricing.
To no surprise, Intralot is also the operator of the DC Lottery’s pitiful sports betting debacle.
Just how bad is bad?
There’s sort of an unwritten rule in the sports betting industry, that no matter how high you jack up the VIG on props and futures, NFL point spreads and totals are always offered at the industry standard price of either -105, or at maximum, -110.
Apparently, Intralot and the DC Lottery didn’t get the memo.
Instead, GambetDC offers -118/-118 and -111/-125 lines on these mainstays, which equates to a VIG of 8.16% – 8.26%, as much as 3.5% more than the VIG at -110 lines. Instead of a break-even point of 52.38% on a sport where even the sharpest pros can struggle to find edges, it’s 54.13%. It doesn’t sound like a huge difference, but over the course of a 17-week season plus the playoffs, it can be crippling.
David Purdum of ESPN fame may have said it best when he equated GambetDC’s lines to inflated gas prices.
New bettors in D.C. These odds (prices) are like paying $2 for a gallon of gas, while other states are only charging a $1.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) May 28, 2020
The site’s money lines are hardly a bargain either, where the house take hovers right around 8%. Want to bet a future? Expect a 20% VIG at minimum.
It’s difficult to say whether Intralot’s numbers are driven by greed, it’s own ignorance, or market research that suggests that players are morons. If it’s the latter, be assured: Many players are going to recognize how atrocious these lines are, and take their business elsewhere.
The lines on last night’s NASCAR event started off so poor, that there was nearly cause for celebration when it was lowered to a theoretical hold of “just” 33.77%, astutely pointed out on Twitter by professional sports gambler and gambling educator Captain Jack Andrews:
— Captain Jack Andrews (@capjack2000) May 28, 2020
This doesn’t end well
With few exceptions, the legal sports betting industry in the United States has acted as a real-life tutorial on how to alienate consumers. Shoddy lines, astronomical tax rates, monopolies, and inane restrictions like in-person mobile registration have slowly deflated a balloon that was ready to pop with enthusiasm when the Supreme Court struck down PASPA two years ago.
There are a few scenarios we can envision for GambetDC (we cringe every time we have to type that name), and none of them bode well for the future of legal sports betting in the DC area:
- Bettors recognize how poor the lines are, and simply don’t wager, instead opting to remain loyal to their local bookie or an offshore agent.
- Bettors initially bet on GambetDC, only to stop betting or reduce their spend once they realize, whether consciously or otherwise, that it’s just not a good play.
- Bettors stick with GambetDC for the long-haul due to its easy accessibility. Gamblers will lose more money per dollar spent, which will result in them chasing losses. We all know how that story goes.
The one fortunate note about this entire fiasco is that the lottery’s monopoly only extends to online sports wagering. Other operators can operate retail-only outlets at arenas and other facilities scattered throughout the city. For instance, William Hill will be able to ban sharp bettors right from inside Capital One Arena, while SportsRadar and Scientific Games have also applied for licenses.
We anticipate that these companies will at least offer better lines on the NFL, which would be great if there were easy access. Instead, it’s a small band-aid for a gushing wound.
A hope, a chance…
In a sea of scummy touts, overhyped reviews by affiliate marketers, and poorly crafted legislation, a counterculture is emerging — one that is quick to point out the industry’s failings, and educate gamblers on how they can avoid getting robbed blind by unscrupulous brands with hidden agendas.
As a recent article in OZY so accurately puts it, they are carrying the responsible gambling torch. Learn their (often fake) names, listen to their podcasts, and heed their advice, and if enough players get the message, the legal industry will be forced to reevaluate itself. At least that’s the hope.
We’ll try and do our part.