Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik
It’s a football Sunday morning and Capital One Arena is buzzing. The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down sporting events at Cap One for seven months now, but the buzzing is not from fans at a game inside the arena, but from people in line to place bets at the temporary sportsbook setup in the ticketing area of the facility.
The temporary facility, which opened on July 31, is in place until construction at the permanent location (the former Green Turtle location) is complete.
Willaim Hill U.S. opened DC’s first legal sportsbook, and first-ever within a U.S. sports complex, inside the Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s Capital One Arena Box Office on July 31.
“We said, ‘Hey, you know what? All three major sports are coming back,’” said Dave Grolman, president of retail operations at William Hill US. “‘What if we did a temporary book here at Capital One?’”
The temporary sportsbook features seven ticket windows and ten kiosks and follows social distancing protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep customers safe. Business hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.
[The ceremonial first bets were made by fans of local teams, Angela Tilghman, David Dwornik and David Feldman on August 3. All three bet on their favorite teams, making bets from the heart. (WTOP/John Domen)]
The temporary setup is expected to be in place until late November, when the larger, two-story facility opens next door to the box office in the space that used to be occupied by the Greene Turtle.
Timeline To A Wager
On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to nullify the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, the federal law that prohibited sports gambling in all but a handful of areas.
The possibility of legal DC sports betting first appeared in September 2018. That’s when DC Councilmember Jack Evans introduced the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018.
On October 1, 2018, The Washington Post released a video which featured Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, detailing his vision for the future of sports gambling.
The DC bill received a hearing in October and then underwent a major change before coming before the council for approval in late November. Evans amended the bill to include an integrity fee of 0.25 percent of revenue.
That proposal swiftly disappeared from the legislation via a unanimous vote of the council, leading to lobbying for its return by a strange alliance of leagues and operators.
The next battle came a week later. Evans pushed for a single-operator model run by the lottery, while DraftKings, FanDuel, and others pushed for at least five licenses to be available. An amendment proposed to include multiple operators failed and the lottery retained the primary rights to operate DC sports betting.
On October 29th, 2018, the NHL named MGM Resorts the first official sports betting partner of the League.
In early November, 2018, the league entered into a partnership with FanDuel. The multi-year deal made FanDuel the official daily fantasy sports partner and an official sports betting partner for the professional hockey league via its FanDuel Sportsbook.
On December 18, 2018, the D.C. Council passed the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018, which Mayor Muriel Bowser signed in January. The next month, the D.C. Council gave final approval to the bill fast-tracking sports betting.
Act 22-594, the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018, as amended by Act 23-2, was signed into law on January 23, 2019, and transmitted to the U.S. Congress for review on February 7, 2019. This legislation cleared congressional review and became law on May 3, 2019. The law legalized sports wagering in the District of Columbia.
In March of 2019, the NHL announced that they had brought sports book operator William Hill on board as an official sports betting partner of the NHL.
On March 27th, 2019, Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis confirmed that the Greene Turtle restaurant at Capital One Arena will become a sportsbook. Leonsis made the comments during the American Gaming Association’s Sports Betting Executive Summit at MGM National Harbor.
In July of 2019, Former American Gaming Association (AGA) executive Sara Slane announced that she will work as a consultant for the National Hockey League (NHL), advising its teams on sports betting strategies. Slane’s consulting company, Slane Advisory, is based in Washington, D.C.
On October 3, 2019, betting firm William Hill WMH PLC and the owner of Washington’s basketball and hockey teams announced a partnership to open a sports-betting venue inside the district’s Capital One Arena, in what would be the first wagering establishment inside a major-league sports venue in the U.S. The sportsbook is expected to open as soon as 2020, depending on regulatory approval. Financial terms weren’t disclosed for the deal between the American subsidiary of U.K.-based William Hill and Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owner of the NBA’s Wizards, WNBA’s Mystics and NHL’s Capitals.
“I try to look at the global business environment and right now the sports gaming industry on a global basis is growing and very healthy,” says Billionaire @TedLeonsis
Monumental is partnering with William Hill for the first sports book in a professional sports arena pic.twitter.com/iR5jPScOw8
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) October 3, 2019
On May 28, 2020, The DC Lottery announced the launch of its online sports wagering platform in Washington D.C., though the roll out of a supporting mobile app has again been delayed until June. Developed in partnership with Intralot, the Gambet DC platformhad been due to go live in March, but the launch was pushed back due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Players in the state can now register for an account via the Gambet website and place sports wagers, though options are currently limited due to the ongoing suspension of many major sports events as a result of the outbreak. Per sports wagering laws in Washington D.C., betting will be permitted on all major sports events and collegiate sports, though players will not be able to bet on events featuring college teams located in the state.
On June 4, 2020, The DC Lottery announced the launch of its online sports wagering platform in Washington D.C., though the roll out of a supporting mobile app has again been delayed until June. Developed in partnership with Intralot, the Gambet DC platformhad been due to go live in March, but the launch was pushed back due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Current application status.
On June 8, 2020 The DC Lottery announced yet another delay in opening retail sports betting in the District. The D.C. Office of Lottery and Gaming doesn’t expect to launch retail sports betting until the summer of 2021 — more than six months after its most recent estimate — citing delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
On July 31, 2020, Capital One Arena became the first American sports venue to open a sportsbook within the facility. The Sportsbook was temporarily placed in place of the ticket box office until the permanent location, the former Green Turtle, completes construction.
August 3, 2020, Capital One Arena held a ceremonial opening for the temporary sportsbook. The ceremonial first bets were made by fans of local teams, Angela Tilghman, David Dwornik and David Feldman on August 3. All three bet on their favorite teams, making bets from the heart.
By Jon Sorensen
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