DC Sports Betting Revenue Rises in May Despite Summer Doldrums

DC Sports Betting Revenue Rises in May Despite Summer Doldrums
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

Sportsbooks in the nation’s capital had decreased handle in May, which is typical after March Madness ends and before NFL and college football cranks back up in the fall.

But the action that operators did take in led to increased revenue for the month, thanks to a strong hold percentage.

Yet as mobile sports betting in Virginia cranks out month after month of strong handles, Washington D.C. continues to produce far more modest numbers.

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D.C. Sports Betting Handle Down

The sports betting handle last month in D.C. was $17,234,139, which was a 6.2% decrease from $18,379,904 in April. The May handle was the lowest in 2022 — in fact, it was the lowest since August 2021, when it was $12.45 million.

In May, $12.2 million in handle came from commercial retail sportsbooks, meaning Caesars Sportsbook at Capital One Arena, BetMGM Sportsbook at Nationals Park and the Grand Central Restaurant and Sportsbook.

The other $5 million in handle was with the online sportsbook offered by Gambet and run by Intralot.

Sportsbook Revenue Rises Along With Hold

The revenue picture for May was better news for D.C. sportsbooks thanks to a higher hold than normal, according to figures from the D.C. Office of Lottery and Gaming. Hold is the percentage that operators keep after paying out winning bets. The national hold average typically hovers somewhere between 6% and 8% but can fluctuate wildly at times.

The BetMGM Sportsbook was a solid example of that in a month-over-month comparison.

In April, BetMGM had a hold of 2.56%, leading to $127,711 in gross gaming revenue (GGR). In May, with a far healthier 11% hold, that revenue shot up to $444,021, more than triple the previous month.

May’s total combined revenue, from Gambet and non-Gambet books combined, was $2,016,709, up 40.9% from April ($1,431,256). The commercial operators fared even better, taking in $1,292,257 in GGR, an increase of 56.0% from $828,609 the previous month.

The sports betting tax revenue from non-Gambet books was $129,226; it’s a flat 10% rate each month.

Gambet revenue is calculated by the amount played minus amount won — in May, that was $724,452, up 20.2% from April ($602,647), according to the D.C. Lottery.

Overall D.C. Sports Betting Picture

The highest month for handle in Washington sports wagering was October, when the Gambet and non-Gambet books combined to take $26.3 million in bets. In neighboring Maryland, which only has retail options at five casinos for now as it tries to work out when its online sports betting market will launch, handle peaked at $32.5 million in January, its first full month.

At Virginia sportsbooks, those figures would likely be considered a bad weekend, never mind a full month.

That’s the difference between the piecemeal offerings in D.C. and Maryland versus a robust, regulated, fully functioning online market with a variety of commercial operators offering sportsbook promo codes and multiple convenient options such as Virginia.

In fact, the April handle of $399.5 million in Virginia was the first time the state dipped (barely) below $400 million since September 2021. The high mark in the commonwealth was $485.5 million in January. And that’s in a state that doesn’t have any brick-and-mortar casinos open yet (though some are on the way). Virginia’s sports betting market is all mobile.

Must be 21+ to participate. T&Cs apply.


Jim Tomlin

Jim Tomlin has nearly 30 years of experience in journalism, having worked at such publications as the Tampa Bay Times, FanRag, Saturdays Down South and Saturday Tradition. He is a contributing writer and editor for BetVirginia.com.

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