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.
Legal Washington DC Betting Sites
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.
Legal Washington DC Sports Betting
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.
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 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.
601 F Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
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
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
- 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.
- Drive time: about 40 minutes
- Address: RT 198 & Racetrack Road, Laurel, MD 20724
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.