In-person and online sports betting is legal in Washington DC due to legislation passed in 2019 authorizing retail sportsbooks and mobile betting apps.

Legal Washington DC sports betting options consist of retail sportsbooks at bars and stadiums, mobile betting at stadiums, and citywide mobile betting powered by the DC Lottery.

Additionally, the city is surrounded by gambling-friendly states with numerous casinos within driving distance. As it stands right now, the legal forms of gambling located within the District of Columbia are the local lottery, daily fantasy sports (DFS), and sports betting.

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Online poker sites and casinos are restricted, and currently, there are no indications lawmakers are planning to change that. Online horse racing betting is also prohibited, but Maryland and Virginia both allow horse racing betting, and Laurel Park is just a short drive away.

Washington DC sports betting law permits sportsbooks in four of the city’s major stadiums, sportsbooks at authorized retailers not located within two blocks of a stadium, and through a mobile betting app managed by the DC Lottery.

Sports betting takes three forms in DC:

  • Sportsbooks at stadiums: Capital One Arena, Audi Field, Nationals Park, and the St. Elizabeth’s East Entertainment & Sports Arena may each apply for a Class A license to operate a retail sportsbook.
  • Retail sportsbooks elsewhere: Bars, restaurants, and certain other establishments not located within two blocks of a stadium may apply for Class B licenses to offer in-person sports betting.
  • Mobile betting apps: The DC Lottery holds a monopoly over citywide mobile sports betting. The DC Lottery sports betting app and website (GambetDC) is the only legal provider of citywide online betting. Each of the four stadiums detailed above may also offer mobile wagering, but only for customers who are physically located on-premises.

GambetDC Sports Betting

GambetDC comes to Washington, D.C. through a partnership between the DC Lottery and Greek gaming company Intralot. The GambetDC app is open to customers 18 or older and located within Washington DC.

DC sports betting law requires bettors to be within city lines when placing wagers. However, customers may sign up for accounts, deposit funds, and view the lines from anywhere. For example, commuters may register their accounts and view the odds before heading into DC and then place their wagers once they cross into city limits.

GambetDC is required by law to verify the identity of each customer. New customers may make deposits and place wagers for 30 days without verifying but must complete the verification process after 30 days or before making their first withdrawal.

Verification requires scanning or taking a clear photo of one of the following documents and then uploading it in the “My Account” section after logging in.

  • Social Security card
  • State-issued ID
  • Driver’s license
  • Valid passport

GambetDC offers wagers on a broad range of professional and college sports with two noteworthy restrictions:

  • No bets allowed on college games involving DC universities
  • No bets allowed on college games that take place in DC

Retail Sportsbooks in Washington, DC

DC law allows the construction of retail sportsbooks at qualified stadiums under Class A licenses and at bars, restaurants, and other locations under Class B licenses.

The District’s first retail sportsbook opened in July 2020 at Capital One Arena. As additional D.C. sports betting locations open, we will update this page accordingly.

William Hill Sportsbook at Capital One Arena

William Hill Sportsbook opened its retail location at Capital One Arena in July 2020 to take wagers in-person.

In December 2020, William Hill launched its mobile betting app for customers 21 and older. The mobile app can be downloaded from anywhere, but DC law only allows William Hill to take mobile bets within a two block radius around Capital One Arena.

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How and Why D.C. Legalized Sports Betting

The march to legal sports betting in D.C. began in 2018 when Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans introduced a bill that would legalize the activity and put the DC Lottery in charge. The bill was titled the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 and sought to legalize in-person and mobile sports betting within city limits.

The DC Council voted on and approved the bill in December 2018 to send it to the mayor’s office. After gaining the mayor’s signature, the bill was sent to Congress for a 30-day waiting period before officially becoming law.

The Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 established some basic ground rules:

  • 10% tax on gross revenue
  • Restaurants, bars and other establishments may receive 5-year licenses at a cost of $50,000
  • The four stadiums named in the bill may apply for 5-year licenses at a cost of $250,000
  • RFK stadium may not apply due to its location on federally-owned land
  • Mobile betting to be offered by a joint partnership between the DC Lottery and Intralot
  • Stadium with sportsbooks may offer mobile wagers to players physically present at the stadium
  • Stadiums have a two-block exclusivity zone within which no other sportsbooks may operate

Washington DC approved sports betting in early 2019, and officials hoped to see the industry launch in time for the NFL season. However, the launch of sports betting in DC was hit by multiple delays.

Early on, two DC councilmembers requested an investigation into how a local company contracted by Intralot was able to secure a large portion of the workload and payout despite apparently having no employees.

As the councilmembers noted, the local company looked like a “pass through” organization designed to meet requirements that Intralot work with local companies:

DC councilmember Elissa Silverman put it this way:

“This is likely a ‘pass through’ company in which the money would go back to Intralot who’s the main vendor and that is not what the DC law is designed to do. I mean this is basically a way for the main vendor to capture ALL the money and give a little money to a shell company.

Sports betting seemed to be on the verge of launching when the 2020 coronavirus pandemic reached US shores, resulting in shuttered businesses and canceled sports events across the country. Once again, DC sports betting was delayed.

The DC Lottery finally launched online betting in May 2020 at under the GambetDC brand.

The Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 was a gift from lawmakers to the DC Lottery. Although stadiums may accept mobile wagers from customers who are physically present, the DC Lottery holds a monopoly over citywide mobile betting.

Additionally, the law allowed the lottery to bypass the traditional bidding process for a third-party vendor to manage the mobile app. Wizards and Capital owner Ted Leonsis was critical of the decision and put it this way in a statement issued in early 2019:

“We are disappointed that this bill creates a monopoly run by the DC Lottery rather than a competitive marketplace for mobile betting. This is a disservice to fans, who don’t get the benefit of competition in the marketplace, and a disservice to the city, which will lose out on potential investment and job growth. We strongly encourage the Council to reconsider creating a robust, competitive marketplace for mobile betting in D.C.”

The no-bid contract deal with Intralot attracted significant scrutiny over ensuing months, especially as councilmember Jack Evans was wrapped up in an ethic scandal of his own. Evans was the chief proponent of giving the contract to Intralot and councilmembers held a vote to determine whether or not the contract should move forward as planned.

The DC Council eventually voted 7-5 to approve the contract despite the reservations of most councilmembers. Not every member was pleased with the outcome of the vote. Councilmember Elissa Silverman said this:

“This stinks. Given all the ethics clouds over this building and this contract, we need to hit pause. We need to resort the public’s trust, but with the approval of this contract, we will continue to erode it.”

Controversy aside, Washington DC has pushed forward with its plans to implement mobile betting in partnership with Intralot.

Although Washington DC does not represent a major sports betting market with a population just shy of 700,000 residents, Evans said the bill would be beneficial for the city with neighboring states poised to draw city residents across state lines to place their bets. The logic goes that if money is going to be spent on sports betting in neighboring states, the District of Columbia might as well legalize it at home, tax it, and collect some revenue.

Evans specifically named the Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino in Charlestown, West Virginia as a prime example of money leaving the state. In a press release, Evans pointed out that the manager of Hollywood Casino has told media outlets that the sportsbook is “heavily targeting the D.C. metro area” due to DC having no legal betting industry.

As Evans put it, “We can be first and get a lot of money or 51st and not get any.”

Just a short drive away from DC, West Virginia has already enacted some of the most business-friendly sports betting rules we’ve seen to date with a licensing fee of just $100,000 and a 10% tax on revenue. If the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 passes in its current form, Washington DC will undercut WV on licensing fees but maintain an identical tax rate at 10%.

Delaware is the next-closest state with legal sports betting, and the operating environment there isn’t nearly as competitive. Delaware’s casinos share half their revenue with the state, which is effectively a 50% tax on sports betting. Washington DC residents will likely find better lines and promotions at home once the first sportsbooks are operational.

Until sports betting goes live in D.C., West Virginia and Delaware will remain the closest options for legal sports betting right now. Atlantic City in New Jersey also offers sports betting, but that’s starting to get into longer distances than most are willing to drive – about 3-and-a-half hours by car.

Gambling in Washington D.C.

Washington DC does not have much of a gambling industry aside from sports betting, the lottery, and the occasional charitable gambling game. Under District of Columbia gambling law, nonprofit organizations may organize raffle, bingo, and Monte Carlo nights if licensed by the DC Lottery’s Charitable Games Division (here).

DC’s gambling laws make for dry reading, but the main takeaway is that almost everything except the lottery, sports betting, and charitable games is prohibited. Under state law, it is a crime to offer gambling or sports betting to anyone else. Furthermore, anyone who loses $25 or more to anyone else may sue to recover those gambling losses.

Current gaming laws even go so far as to make it a crime to participate in sports betting. According to the law, any person caught making a bet or placing a bet on an athletic contest can be fined up to $1,000 and jailed for up to 180 days.

Casinos Near Washington DC

Multiple casinos in Maryland and West Virginia are all within driving distance of Washington DC and are known to attract no small number of DC-area residents. Below are some of the best DC casinos not technically located in DC.

MGM National Harbor

  • Drive time: about half an hour
  • Address: 101 MGM National Drive, Oxon Hill, MD 20745

Horseshoe Baltimore

  • Drive time: less than an hour
  • Address: 1525 Russell Street, Baltimore, MD 21230

Live! Casino and Hotel

  • Drive time: less than an hour
  • Address: 7002 Arundel Mills Cir #7777, Hanover, MD 21076

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

  • Drive time: about an hour-and-a-half
  • Address: 100 Hollywood Drive, Charles Town, WV 25414

Horse Racing Betting in Washington DC

Washington, DC does not have legal horse racing betting in any form. There are no horse racing tracks, off-track betting locations (OTBs), or advance deposit wagering sites (ADWs) available to residents. Licensed horse racing sites such as BetAmerica and TwinSpires do not offer their services in DC.

The nearest major track is Laurel Park, situated between Washington DC and Baltimore. Laurel Park is about a 40-minute drive depending on traffic and hosts races every Sunday through Thursday.

Laurel Park receives a fair number of guests from the city. Residents can visit the track website here for directions on driving to Laurel Park from Washington DC.  

Laurel Park

  • Drive time: about 40 minutes
  • Address: RT 198 & Racetrack Road, Laurel, MD 20724

DC Lottery

The DC Lottery was established in 1982 and has since raised more than $2 billion for the General Fund. Money raised by the lottery for the General Fund supports various public services such as education, recreation and parks, public safety, housing, and senior and child services.

Additionally, the DC Lottery Charitable Games Division has issued more than 3,000 licenses to nonprofit organizations that have raised more than $123 million of their own for charitable causes.

The DC Lottery offers relatively high payout rates, with an average of more than 50% of all sales going back to players in the form of winnings. To date, the DC Lottery has paid more than $3 billion to winners and continues to run strong to this day.

Games offered by the DC Lottery include various local draw games, scratch cards, and multi-state games such as Powerball and Mega Millions. In all, the DC Lottery is comparable to other state lotteries despite the city’s comparatively small population.

  • DC-2: A two-digit game with six different bet types and a chance to turn as little as $0.50 into $50. Drawings are held twice a day, seven days a week.
  • DC-3: A three-digit game with nine ways to win and prizes ranging from $25 to $500. Drawings are held twice a day, seven days a week.
  • DC-4: A four-digit game with eleven ways to win and prizes ranging from $100 $5,000. Drawings are held twice a day, seven days a week.
  • DC-5: A five-digit game with 120 ways to win and prizes ranging from $25 to $25,000. Drawings are held twice a day, seven days a week.
  • Powerball: A multi-state lottery game with some of the biggest jackpots in the world. Past prizes have topped $750 million. Drawings are held twice a week.
  • Mega Millions: Similar to Powerball and equally massive jackpots. The record Mega Millions jackpot stands at $656 million. Drawings are held twice a week.
  • Lucky for Life: Buy a ticket for $2 for a chance at winning up to $1,000 a day for life. Drawings are held twice a week.
  • DC Keno: A traditional keno game with drawings held every four minutes and a top prize of $1 million.
  • The Lucky One: A monitor draw game played every four minutes after keno. Pick a number between 1-36 and predict high/low, odd/even or that exact number. Win 1.5x your bet amount if you correctly predict the high/low or odd/even outcome. Win 24x your bet if you guess the exact number drawn.
  • DC Fast Play: These are instant win games that work just like scratch cards except they’re printed on paper by your retailer and no scratching is necessary. There are many different fast play games to choose from.
  • Race2Riches: A virtual horse racing game that costs a dollar to play with payouts as high as $1 million.
  • Scratchers: Instant win scratch-off games featuring many different themes, prices and payouts. The biggest DC Lottery scratchers award a top prize of $1 million.
  • TAP-N-PLAY: Virtual instant win and arcade-style games such as billiards that are played on lottery terminal machines.

Washington DC does not have online lottery ticket sales. Players may only purchase tickets in-person from an authorized retailer. Currently, there are no plans in place to take the DC Lottery online.

However, there is a bit of interesting trivia related to the DC Lottery and online gambling. In 2011, Washington DC became the first jurisdiction in the United States to legalize online gambling. The DC Council approved a measure in 2011 to create iGaming DC and offer games of chance online to people located within city borders.

New Jersey holds the distinction of being the first state to implement legal online gambling (2013), but Washington DC was the first US jurisdiction to pass legislation authorizing online gambling.

However, officials scrapped the plan amid concerns regarding how the legislation was passed and connections between DC officials and a company with an interest in the project.