A restaurant at the venue announced its upcoming closing this week, fueling speculation over whether Capital One Arena will open a sportsbook in the near future.
Home to the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, among other teams and uses, Capital One Arena could tap into the growing trend of legalized sports betting. Washington, DC officials have approved, but yet to implement, a law that allows for in-person wagers at professional sports facilities. While this provision would affect multiple venues in the District, it has been believed that Capital One Arena in particular is a strong fit for a sportsbook.
Speculation over that possibility picked up this week, as Maryland-based sports bar chain Green Turtle announced Wednesday that it will close its Capital One Arena location at the corner of Sixth and F streets NW after the Wizards’ regular-season finale next month. It had three years remaining on its lease for the space, but accepted a buyout to make way for a proprietary business concept from Monumental Sports & Entertainment–owner of Capital One Arena, as well as the Wizards and Capitals. The announcement prompted questions if that concept is indeed a sportsbook, but MSE officials have not revealed future plans for the space. More from the Washington Post:
Terms of the buyout were not disclosed, and neither were details of the plans for the space. Monumental Sports and Entertainment completed $40 million worth of privately funded renovations to Capital One Arena last summer, and last month it announced an additional $15 million in upgrades scheduled to be completed this offseason.
“As we look to the future, an opportunity to expand our footprint has prompted us to explore new developments in all of the space in the arena,” MSE President of Business Operations Jim Van Stone said in a release.
There’s speculation that at least part of the space occupied by the Greene Turtle will be used for a sportsbook. The D.C. Council legalized sports betting in the District in December and granted four arena and stadium operators, including Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis, the option to open Las Vegas-style sportsbooks on site. Leonsis has talked openly about his desire to make Capital One Arena a destination for legalized gambling — and not only during games….
Leonsis told WUSA 9 last month that he didn’t envision a sportsbook opening inside Capital One Arena until the end of this year at the earliest.
Legalized sports betting has become more widespread since last May, when the Supreme Court ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992–which banned sports betting in most circumstances–as unconstitutional. That effectively paved the way for sports betting to be legalized on a state-on-state basis, but the trend among states that have enacted their own laws and regulations is to stop short of permitting the operation of sportsbooks at professional sports venues. That makes the policy in D.C. unique, but it remains to be seen whether it will indeed lead to a sportsbook at Capital One Arena in the near future.
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