Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. is poised to become the first professional sports arena in the U.S. with a fully operational sportsbook.
On Thursday, Monumental Sports & Entertainment founder Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics, announced a partnership with international bookmaker William Hill.
Upon regulatory approval, William Hill will operate a sportsbook inside Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, D.C.
What does it all mean? Here are the basics.
When will the sportsbook first open?
No tentative opening date has been set, and several hurdles remain. “If you were a betting man, pardon the pun,” William Hill CEO Joe Asher said, “you’d probably bet on sometime in 2020. But, I’d be reluctant to steer you to January or December.”
What hurdles remain?
The process of implementing Washington, D.C.’s sports betting laws and regulations has been marred with controversy. A pending lawsuit has halted a contract with Intralot, the Greek company selected by the D.C. lottery to run online sports betting, outside of the sports venues. A D.C. judge is expected to rule on the lawsuit in the coming weeks.
William Hill still must apply for and be granted a license from the D.C. lottery.
Where will the sportsbook be?
The multi-floor sportsbook venue will be located inside Capital One Arena, on the south side, off F Street NW, in downtown Washington, D.C. Part of the space was previously occupied by the Greene Turtle restaurant.
Will the sportsbook only be open on game days?
No. The sportsbook aims to be a “year-round hub of activity for sports fans,” according to a press release, potentially open 365 days a year, including on days when there are no events at the arena.
There are even plans to broadcast events inside the 20,000-seat arena bowl on the massive new LED video screens installed this year.
How will you be able to place bets at Capital One Arena?
In-person, over-the-counter wagering will be available at the sportsbook venue, and, pending regulatory approval, online wagering through William Hill-only will be available throughout the arena (including in your seat during games).
Does the NBA allow sportsbooks in arenas?
Not entirely. The NBA prohibits retail sportsbooks offering in-person betting inside arenas. However, the location of the William Hill sportsbook at Capital One Arena is permitted by the league, because all passages from within the arena to the sportsbook venue, including concessions and the arena bowl, will be closed during NBA games. Patrons, under the current rule, will need to exit the arena and access the sportsbook from the outside during NBA games.
“If that’s ultimately the rule, we’ll, of course, be compliant for however long that rule remains in place,” Asher said. “Haven’t heard anything of that nature from the NHL.”
Will Leonsis and his teams share in the revenue from the bets?
No. Leonsis emphasized that he is only renting space in the arena to William Hill and will not share in any profits from the betting.
“We will never touch the money,” Leonsis said at a Thursday press conference. “We will always be steps removed from the odds. We want to be indifferent (to the odds) with our teams and our coaches.”
Leonsis gave an example that if the Wizards were favored by 15 points and were leading by 25 in the fourth quarter, the coach might pull the starters and only end up winning by seven.
“That’s totally what the coach and the players should be focused on,” Leonsis added.
So all Leonsis gets is rent money from sports betting?
Through the partnership, Leonsis will act as a landlord only for the William Hill sportsbook, but he is heavily invested in the sports gambling space. Monumental Sports has a stake in Sportradar, the NBA’s official data distributor, which provides league data to bookmakers both domestically and internationally.
William Hill partnered with the NBA earlier this week, becoming an authorized sports betting operator of the league.
Which teams play in Capital One Arena?
The Wizards (NBA), Capitals (NHL), Georgetown Hoyas (NCAA) and Washington Valor (AFL) all play at Capital One Arena.
Can you bet on games involving those teams?
Yes, except for Georgetown. District of Columbia regulations prohibit betting on games involving in-state colleges.
Will we see sportsbooks at other professional sports arenas around the U.S.?
Currently, the District of Columbia and Illinois are the only jurisdictions that included in legislation the right for sports venues to offer sportsbooks. New York has considered it as well.
Once regulations are in place, will sportsbooks at stadiums, including Capital One Arena and potentially Nationals Park, be the only places you can bet?
No. Restaurants and bars may apply to offer sports betting. Establishments that want to offer sports betting must not be located within a two-block radius of a sports venue. Online wagering also will allowed.