In-stadium sports betting is here — officially. On Wednesday, the William Hill Sportsbook had its grand opening in the Capital One Arena in Washington DC, home to the Washington Capitals, the Washington Wizards, and the Georgetown University basketball team.
While a temporary sportsbook space with betting windows and self-service kiosks opened at the arena in July 2020, this was the real deal.
It’s the first full-fledged sportsbook to operate inside a US professional sports facility, and it shows just how far we have come in the space of a few years.
The pro sports leagues that hounded the state of New Jersey through the courts in a bid to derail its efforts to legalize sportsbooks are now happily monetizing bets on their own games.
Previously, and for decades, the leagues’ official line was that sports betting posed an existential threat.
According to a William Hill news release, Capital One Arena visitors can place bets from their seats in the stadium via their mobile devices, or while inside the sportsbook itself, a two-story, 18,000 square-foot venue built to accommodate the crowds.
There are 17 betting windows and 12 self-service betting kiosks. A hundred TV screens adorn the walls, while a jumbotron hangs from the ceiling in the center. A custom, 1,500 square-foot LED screen wraps the entire facility.
The sportsbook will function daily throughout the year, and will be open to customers wandering in off the street, as well as to those holding tickets to stadium events.
All will all be able to enjoy an “inspired sports bar menu” by Michelin-rated Chef Nicholas Stefanelli.
This may be the first sportsbook within a stadium. But it’s not the first to be established extremely near a stadium.
FanDuel opened a sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack in North Jersey in July 2018, just months after the US Supreme Court rejected the federal prohibition of sports betting. The Meadowlands is a stone’s throw from the MetLife stadium, home to the New York Giants and New York Jets.
Four months later, FanDuel’s parent, Flutter Entertainment, announced in a November 2018 earnings call that the Meadowlands venue had quickly exceeded expectations, becoming “one of the biggest sports betting outlets in the world.”
It helped that the book was located within the largest urban landmass on Earth — and the most populous area of the US — at a time when New York state did not have legal sports betting.
But it’s also clear that having thousands of super-engaged sports fans passing through a venue en masse is huge advantage.
Which is why other sports owners will be watching this space closely. Several states have included language in their betting regulations that will permit in-stadium wagering, while others are pushing to make it happen.
The most recent was Arizona, which legalized sports betting just last month. Its bill included 10 licenses for professional sports organizations, paving the way for stadium betting for fans of teams like the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Arizona Cardinals.
Caesars Entertainment, which now owns William Hill, has already signed deals with the Diamondbacks and the Suns to bring sports betting to their stadiums.