Sports betting arrives in DC, headlining MMA fights, German soccer league

The District’s sports betting website is now active and accepting bets. It’s happening at a time when live sports are few and far between all over the world, but it’s now happening.

For now, the events you can wager on through the city’s new sports betting site, gambetDC, are being headlined by things such as MMA matches and German soccer league games, though professional sports leagues have started making progress toward returning to action in the coming weeks.

To place a wager on the D.C. Lottery’s website, you need to be at least 18 years old and physically present in the city. Wagers can’t be made on federal property, such as the National Mall or in Rock Creek Park.

But this isn’t the first time people have been betting on sporting events in D.C.

“This isn’t a new activity for Washingtonians; just doing it legally is a new activity,” said Casey Clark, senior vice president of strategic communications with the American Gaming Association.

With the number of states that have legalized sports betting recently, the AGA last year launched its “Have a Game Plan” campaign aimed at encouraging smart, responsible wagering.

“This is not a job. It’s not a way for people to go get rich,” Clark said. “This is a form of adult entertainment, and it should be treated as such.”

The AGA’s game plan encourages adults to:

  • Set a budget and stick to it.
  • Keep it social by playing with friends and family.
  • Play with licensed and regulated operators.
  • Be informed and learn the details of the games you’re playing.

“You’ll have a lot more options than people expect going in the first time,” Clark said. “I think people will continue to go in and place a bet on the Caps to win the Stanley Cup, but I don’t know that they’re going to understand all the miscellaneous options.”

That’s because you can bet not only on the Washington Capitals to win it all, or the Washington Nationals to win their home opener, but you’ll also be able to bet on things such as how many points or goals are scored in a game, how many hits someone has in any game, and other little details that go beyond the traditional wager placed ahead of a game.

In fact, you’ll also be able to bet on action as it’s happening, so if you’re convinced a fourth-quarter rally is in the cards for the team you’re watching, or that another touchdown is going to be scored in the final minutes of the game, you’ll be able to bet on that, too.

“If you look at more mature sports betting markets in other countries, in-play sports betting or kind of live-action betting becomes really critical,” Clark said. “That percentage is something like 85% of the action that’s taken in a place like the U.K., which has had legal sports betting longer than it’s had a Premier League.”

“There it’s just ingrained as part of the sports culture,” he said. “And here, it’s a little bit different — so it’s going to take us a little bit of time to get accustomed to the kinds of bets and the opportunities that are out there.”

In the coming weeks and months, more gambling venues are set to open in D.C., with bars and restaurants taking action with both kiosks and apps that you can use inside those facilities.

The city’s GambetDC app is also set to go online next week.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2020 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up