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Monumental Sports, William Hill partner for Capital One Arena sportsbook

Monumental Sports and Entertainment owner and founder Ted Leonsis (Credit: Getty Images)

A sportsbook is coming to a US professional sports venue for the first time following the completion of a dramatic new deal between betting company William Hill US and Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Capital One Arena, the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards, and Women’s National Basketball Association’s Washington Mystics.

In addition, William Hill has become the exclusive sports betting partner of the Wizards, Capitals, Mystics and Monumental Sports & Entertainment.

Construction of the William Hill Sports Book at Capital One Arena – which will be located at the site inside the venue formerly occupied by the Greene Turtle Bar and Grill – is expected to begin after the deal passes all required regulatory approvals.

The planned sportsbook will span multiple floors, will be open daily, year-round, and accessible to the public from F Street in Washington, D.C. During game days and certain in-arena events, both ticketed and non-ticketed fans will have access to the facility. There will also be a full-service food and beverage offering.

According to the Washington Post, Monumental will not share in the gambling revenue with William Hill, which will pay rent under a standard leasing arrangement. William Hill will separately rent advertising space around the stadium.

“Think of it as less of a cocktail lounge and more of a modern sports bar and trading desk,” said Monumental majority owner and founder Ted Leonsis. “We want it to feel like the best Apple store with the genius bar, because young people are accustomed to that.”

“We don’t touch the money and we don’t set the odds,” Leonsis added. “A fan needs to know and trust that we do what is in the best interest of the team.”

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.

At the 2019 All-Star Weekend this past February in Charlotte, North Carolina, Leonsis said sports betting was the NBA’s “most important new business.”

Earlier this 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.

According to Jim Van Stone, Monumental Sports’ president of business operations and chief commercial officer, the Capital One Arena sportsbook is expected to lead to a significant spike in visitation to the nearly 22-year-old facility.

“We’re building around 230 events a year and about three million people through the turnstiles, we think [in-venue betting is] going to increase our visits by almost a million on an annual basis,” Van Stone said last month.

The partnership comes just a day after William Hill – which is now active in 10 US states – announced a deal to become an authorized sports betting operator of the National Basketball Association in the United States.

Monumental Sports has been able to become a first-mover on this initiative by the provisions of the sports betting bill in Washington DC. The legalization process has stalled, however.

A DC Superior Court judge has issued a two-week restraining order that would block the District from moving forward on its $215m no-bid sports gambling contract with Intralot, the company that was hired to establish sports gambling in the jurisdiction.

Major League Soccer team DC United is also planning to install a sportsbook at Audi Field.

The flurry of dealmaking provides further evidence of the rapid development of the American legal sports betting market following the US Supreme Court’s ruling last year to allow states to set their own rules around the activity.