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Officials at Capital One Arena announced last week that the home of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals was ready to become the first sporting facility in the United States to offer sports betting to customers.
While betting kiosks and windows are widely available in other areas of the world, the practice has yet to find a home in the United States until the announcement by Capital One Arena officials.
With the roll out of sports gambling in response to the 2018 Supreme Court decision to allow states to decide if they would like to offer sports betting, it was only a matter of time before an arena that hosts professional teams took the plunge in offering wagering on their premises.
The betting facility at the Capital One Arena will be run by English sportsbook operator.
“We rent to McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts and now William Hill,” said Ted Leonsis, the chief executive of Monumental Sports, the company that owns the Arena and both franchises.
Due to a local lawsuit holding up the start date of betting in the district, William Hill execs are unsure when betting will start at the Arena.
“I don’t really have a good feel for how long that might take,” said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill U.S. “You would bet on sometime in 2020. We’ll let the regulatory process play out.”
One of the biggest issues with Capital One Arena offering sports betting is how the facility will handle wagering when in-town college Georgetown plays their basketball games at the Arena.
The NCAA is continuing to push back on the adoption of betting and schools such as Purdue have recently banned all players, coaches and important personnel from recreationally betting in their home state of Indiana, where sports betting just became legal.
Although William Hill’s Asher does not want the sportsbook to be closed during Georgetown games, he understands that may happen but it won’t stop people from betting via the company’s mobile app.
The introduction of the sportsbook to the Capital One Arena will make the facility open year round and offer late closing times so fans can stay and watch West Coast games.
For officials like Leonsis, the addition of a betting parlor to the company’s arena is an inevitable step that should not be viewed as scandalous.
“It’s not like gambling isn’t happening in an unregulated world,” Leonsis said. “There’s a lot of gambling today off the books, that’s not creating jobs.”
Leonsis also told the New York Times that they wanted to push sports betting as an activity similar to buying a stock and eliminating the negative connotation to the word, “gambling”.
“I hate that term. We want this to be the beginning of a highly reasoned, highly rational experience,” Leonsis said.
Officials at the Arena and executives with William Hill have said they plan for the parlor to offer a wide variety of betting on events from all over the world, such as soccer and cricket. And in-game betting will be available to customers as well once the Arena opens their doors for sports betting.
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