Once it goes into effect, legislation to legalize sports betting in Washington, D.C. could allow sportsbooks at professional sports venues, including Capital One Arena.
Legalized sports betting has become more widespread since last May, when the Supreme Court decided to rule the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992–which banned sports betting in most circumstances–as unconstitutional. Washington, D.C. is one of the latest jurisdictions to move to legalize sports betting and, while the timing of when its law will go into effect is still up in the air, it could have implications for the District’s professional sports venues.
As part of the legislation that is expected to eventually be signed into law by Mayor Muriel Bowser, Washington would allow the operation of on-site sportsbooks at its four professional sports facilities: Capital One Arena, home of the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals; Nationals Park, home of MLB’s Nationals; Audi Field, home of MLS’s D.C. United; and the new Entertainment and Sports Arena that hosts WNBA and NBA G League action. None of the facilities operators have committed to opening a sportsbook, and the legislation would carry restrictions on where venue-exclusive online betting platforms could be used.
In the interim, however, it appears that a Capital One Arena sportsbook is a possibility. There is no formal commitment to launch one at this time, but Monumental Sports Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis is a backer of legalized sports betting, and Capital One Arena’s location in the District’s bustling Chinatown could make a sportsbook viable. More from the Washington Post:
Perhaps the biggest winner will be Monumental Sports CEO Ted Leonsis, who owns Capital One Arena, in addition to teams such as the Wizards, Capitals and Mystics, and has been an outspoken proponent of legalized sports betting. Because of league restrictions, Monumental would have to partner with an established gaming company to run the sports betting operation and effectively would serve as landlord to a sportsbook. Leonsis’s venture capital firm Revolution Growth has invested in DraftKings, but Monumental has not yet announced any gambling partners to date.
The eventual partner would be able to pay $250,000 for a five-year license that would enable the arena to host a sportsbook.
“It’s an exciting prospect to have a nice sportsbook right in downtown D.C.,” said Randy Boe, Monumental’s general counsel. “We bring about 3 million fans a year to the building, plus it’s a pretty highly trafficked part of town.”
The arena would have betting windows and kiosks inside, but the grander vision is for a casino-style sportsbook — betting, food, drinks, TVs — that’s accessible from both inside and outside the arena. Monumental likely would identify retail space around the building that would be open to fans even when no teams are playing in Capital One Arena.
It is not guaranteed that every eligible venue will set up a sportsbook, as the cost of opening and operating such a space might take away from any benefit that is gained. Still, the legislation in Washington–which does not have a casino in its borders–would be unique in that it allows professional sports venues to open their own sportsbooks. Most laws in effect prevent wagers from being accepted at professional sports venues, though online gambling has found other ways to steadily gain a presence at arenas.
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