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Heavyweight BetMGM Invading Washington DC Market

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Heavyweight BetMGM Invading Washington DC Market
An exterior view shows the marquee at MGM Grand Hotel. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Washington DC gets some much-needed competition in their legal sports betting market with the Thursday announcement that BetMGM will open the state’s third mobile sportsbook at Washington Nationals Park. BetMGM joins the beleaguered Lottery-run GambetDC platform and William Hill that operates out of Capitol One Arena in Washington DC.

The DC market was one of the first markets to go live after the Supreme Court decision to allow legal sports betting in 2018. Since then, it has failed to gain much traction because of GambetDC dragging the overall scene down and a serious lack of competition within the market itself.

BetMGM brings a big name to the DC scene and will hopefully shakes things up a bit.

Washington Nationals Coming On Board

It was inevitable that the Washington Nationals signed on with a sports betting provider. The NHL’s Washington Capitals and NBA’s Washington Wizards were locked up by William Hill late last year. Landing BetMGM, one of the industry Heavyweights seems like a good get for the MLB team.

Alan Gottlieb, Chief Operating Office of Lerner Sports Group, commented: “As our official sports betting partner, BetMGM further enhances the greatest in-venue fan experience in Washington, D.C. through its state-of-the-art entertainment products and services. The BetMGM mobile app will enable our fans to engage with the game in new and exciting ways, while the BetMGM sportsbook connected to Nationals Park will provide Nationals fans and the D.C. community with a first-class gathering place to celebrate their passion for sports.”

The O-Fence-ive Part

There is one glaring hole in the Washington DC legal sports betting scene and that is its use of geofencing to limit the reach of William Hill and now BetMGM. At present, only the disappointing GambetDC mobile app is able to run throughout the District – the other two’s technology is confined to the stadiums and a two-block radius around those facilities, thanks to geofencing.

Simply put, there are invisible walls beyond the two-block radius that will prevent the BetMGM app from allowing customers to place a wager. The BetMGM website will be available throughout DC, but bettors will have to be within the perimeter of the fencing in order to place a wager.

The restrictive rules haven’t quite given GambetDC a leg-up in the competition battle. Bettors have still seemed to prefer making a trip to Capitol One Arena to place a bet with William Hill rather than using the GambetDC platform… and the competition hasn’t been close.

Hopes are that BetMGM’s loyal customers will do the same. A better outcome would be that the restrictive rules are discussed as part of an overdue audit of the fledgling DC legal sports betting scene. Results of that audit were due in May but haven’t been seen yet.

Regional Success

The MGM Resorts brand has been a fixture in the surrounding DC area, making a deal with the Washington Nationals and their Park a natural fit. MGM National Harbor Casino has been one of the bigger attractions in the Maryland market and operates on the DC/Maryland border. Maryland’s own legal sports betting market is on track for a fall launch and the MGM brand is expected to play a huge part in the growth of that market.

BetMGM’s mobile app has consistently been one of the top-producing betting options in neighboring Virginia since their legal sports betting launch as well.

Translation – the MGM brand is highly visible and has a broad reach already in the surrounding DC area. A deal with the Washington Nationals will only increase their profile in the region.

“Launching in Washington, D.C. at Nationals Park sets the stage for our plans to expand BetMGM within the region, as we’ve already seen great success in Virginia,” said Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM.

What to Expect

Expect the BetMGM mobile app to make quite a splash in the limited Washington DC market. As one of the industry Heavyweights, the MGM Resorts brand has a tendency to go All-In on any jurisdiction they are tied to.

There are plans for a retail betting facility at Nationals Park down the road, but those plans have already been put on hold because of COVID-19. The launch of the app and the important relationship with the Nationals MLB franchise could accelerate those plans however.

The big winners in the Nationals/BetMGM deal are the bettors in the DC scene who will enjoy the fruits of one of, if not the biggest legal sports provider in the nation. This big loser is Lottery-run GambetDC… and rightfully so!