Capital One Arena sets sports betting precedent by opening in-venue sportsbook

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Capital One Arena in Washington, District of Columbia, has set a precedent in the United States sports betting landscape by accepting wagers at its temporary new sportsbook, which has been converted from the venue’s box office area.

The multipurpose home of of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals and National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards has become the first professional team sports arena in the US to host a full-service betting operation.

It follows a deal between betting company William Hill US and venue owners Monumental Sports & Entertainment in October 2019.

As part of the partnership, the William Hill Sports Book at Capital One Arena is being built at the site inside the venue formerly occupied by the Greene Turtle Bar and Grill.

Construction of the sportsbook has been delayed in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic. And as a temporary measure, William Hill began operating seven betting windows and nine kiosks at the Capital One Arena box office on July 31 in a soft launch.

Covid-19 safety protocols include social distancing, customers and staff wearing masks, and regular sanitizing of kiosks. The sportsbook will be open seven days a week, from 11am until 11pm.

An official opening ceremony due to take place on August 3 at 11am ET.

“We think it’s certainly an exciting moment for us, and we think it’s a really great engagement opportunity for our fans,” Monumental’s president of business operations Jim Van Stone told the Washington Post. “Our fans are passionate about sports, and although we can’t host events at the current time, their ability to come down here and potentially place a bet on one of their favorite teams is a great engagement opportunity for us.”

Capital One Arena is currently vacant amid the health crisis with the Wizards, Capitals, and WNBA Mystics all playing in bubble environments across North America.

Monumental will not share in the gambling revenue with William Hill, which will pay rent under a standard leasing arrangement.

Monumental majority owner and founder Ted Leonsis, the billionaire former AOL senior executive, has been a big proponent of sports betting for several years, and is eager to capitalise on new revenue opportunities. Leonsis’s venture capital firm Revolution Growth has already invested in fantasy sports operator DraftKings, data company Sportradar,  and sports betting start-up WinView.

Last year, the Wizards piloted betting-infused broadcasts of its games on regional sports network NBC Sports Washington to remain at the “bleeding edge” of sports betting innovation.

Capital One Arena expects to generate a million additional visitors per year at the multi-purpose arena following the onset of in-venue sports betting.

“For us, in the long term, getting people back in the building once we get through this pandemic situation is something we’re all truly excited about,” Van Stone added. “We think completion of the sportsbook, once it’s fully operational come the latter part of the fall, is really going to be a game-changer for us.”