Sports betting is definitely coming to D.C., possibly in time for baseball season, but in the meantime, if you want to place a bet on a ballgame, you can do so just 90 miles away in West Virginia.
Not far from Harpers Ferry, sports betting is in full swing at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, one of several sports books in the state.
Since opening the sports book in September, Hollywood said it’s done a brisk business.
“From Sept. 1 we took about $40 million in sports bets,” said Erich Zimny of Hollywood Casino.
The casino says people are betting on everything from football and basketball to less popular sports like darts and cricket.
“Football has been more popular than cricket and darts,” Zimny said. “Having started on Sept. 1, football has carried the day. About 70 percent of our bets are on football; about two-thirds of that on pro football.”
Including a man who recently bet on all 15 NFL games and got them all right.
“He turned $5 into $100,000,” Zimny said. “That's about 30,000-to-1 as far as real odds go.”
Matt Merrillant, who drives an hour from his home in Virginia, said he hasn’t been that lucky but hopes jurisdictions like D.C., Maryland and Virginia get sports betting up and running soon so he won’t have to drive so far to place a bet.
“There'd be so much tax money and revenue they wouldn’t know what to do with it,” he said. “So yeah, they’re passing up a lot of money.”
D.C. hopes to offer the option of placing bets from a mobile app sometime this year. Hollywood hopes to offer the same option.
“It's a lot more complicated than people would think,” Zimny said. “There's a lot of more moving parts to it than people would think, so we're in process of developing it now and hope to have online soon.”
While you do have to trek to West Virginia to place your bets, you don’t have to go back to cash in your winnings. You can mail in your winning ticket, and they'll mail you a check.