The District of Columbia’s long-delayed legal sports betting launch has been postponed yet again, this time (allegedly) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DC Lottery was originally scheduled to launch its Intralot-powered digital sports betting product in January, but in November that timeline was pushed back to sometime in the first quarter of 2020. On Monday, the Washington City Paper reported that the Lottery had now ‘indefinitely’ delayed its betting launch.
A spokesperson said the Lottery’s web and mobile wagering platforms “are tested and ready to go live.” The problem is that the mass cancellation of sports events due to the coronavirus has left the Lottery with “little-to-no games or bets to offer” DC residents. The Lottery was “revising” its launch strategy and promised updates in the coming days, including “introducing the brand and its functionalities.”
The spokesperson denied that the betting launch was due to Intralot’s financial woes. The company’s shares have been on a fairly uninterrupted downward spiral since the end of January 2018, when they stood at €1.37. The shares closed Tuesday’s trading on the Athens exchange at just under €0.14. Earlier this month, Intralot appointed a new CEO, Sokratis Kokkalis, but it still hasn’t issued its Q419 financial results.
DC bettors may come to appreciate the delay in seeing the Lottery’s betting product, at least, if the experience is anything like the Montana Lottery’s betting product, which is also powered by Intralot.
Sports Bet Montana made its debut earlier this month via retail terminals and on-premise mobile apps at over 140 licensed locations. Punters immediately expressed outrage at the odds on offer, including money lines that were vastly out of whack with those available in other US states and any number of internationally licensed online sportsbooks, not to mention vig as high as -135.
DC’s betting legislation also allowed for local bars, restaurants and major sports venues to operate their own sportsbooks, both land-based and digital (although the latter will only be functional on-site and within a very narrow radius of the venue).
The US division of UK bookmaker William Hill has struck a deal to manage a sportsbook at Capital One Arena. Hills’ betting product isn’t likely to launch for at least another month or so, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the sports world will by then have anything more to offer in terms of live events on which to wager.