What DC can learn from Oregon’s betting model

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Over 800 app store reviews of the Scoreboard sportsbook app, powered by SBTech and the Oregon Lottery, earned an average rating of 1.6 out of 5. In contrast, the DraftKings sportsbook app has an average rating of 4 .8 from over 340,000 reviews.

Casual bettors often like the user-friendly interface and promotions offered by DraftKings. Reviews for the scoreboard app were not positive as some users took advantage of the platform’s clunky deposit and withdrawal options. Early financial numbers also painted a worrying picture.

Fortunately for the Oregon Lottery, DraftKings’ acquisition of SBTech presented a well-timed opportunity for change.

“This gave us an opportunity to leverage the DraftKings platform and since DraftKings owns SBTech, they have an interest in us terminating that deal and entering into a new one with DraftKings, which is what ended up happening,” said Matt Shelby, Chief Communications and Engagement Officer at the Oregon Lottery.

As a result, in January, DraftKings became the only legal mobile sportsbook in the state.

Switch to DraftKings

The move to DraftKings has benefited Oregon’s sports bettors and lottery workers alike. The Scoreboard app involved the lottery, SBTech and a third-party financial platform. But with the current setup, DraftKings does most of the work.

For customers, DraftKings offers a user-friendly platform through a well-known brand.

“It’s been beneficial to us on a number of levels,” Shelby said. “For one thing, the user experience on the DraftKings platform is simply better. They do this for a living. Less visible but just as important to us was a much leaner policy as DraftKings manages the player account, the money. They already have the integrity fees and the data feeds with all the leagues.”

Oregon Lottery officials and bettors seem happy with the change.

“It’s been good for us and it’s been good for our players,” Shelby said. “At the end of the day, you care.”

The DC Council is considering a change

Washington, DC, which granted Intralot a controversial single-source sports betting deal, is considering exiting its GambetDC product. This could mean opening up the market to big national operators like BetMGM, Caesars or FanDuel.

“They’re starting to realize, I think, that they may not have properly assessed the best way to offer sports betting,” he said Becky Harrisa Distinguished Fellow in Gaming and Leadership at the UNLV International Gaming Institute.

Harris emphasized that jurisdictions legalizing mobile sports betting do so for a number of reasons. First, there is a desire to move sports betting away from unregulated black market platforms. Second, there is a desire to generate tax revenue. Regulated offerings often fill the first part of this equation, but some jurisdictions may find that what they have legalized is an inefficient method of generating tax revenue.

“I think it’s that income piece that’s causing states to reevaluate,” Harris said.

That’s the truth for DC as council members consider possible changes, largely due to cut revenue forecasts. There is debate among DC Lottery officials over whether allowing major national operators into the mobile betting market — BetMGM, Caesars and FanDuel have retail sportsbooks in the district — would actually increase overall tax revenue.

When it comes to a jurisdiction changing its sports betting plans, tax revenue is a key component. Combined with a sub-par user experience, there are even more reasons to make the switch.

However, that doesn’t guarantee an imminent change, and every jurisdiction is different. DraftKings isn’t on the verge of acquiring Intralot, so the DC Council and the lottery don’t have a convenient alternative. Change could be coming, however, and the Oregon situation could offer a little guidance on the potential benefits of giving larger operators more access.

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