Timeline To A Wager: The Road To Sports Betting In Washington D.C. And The NHL

Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for William Hill US

It’s been two and a half years since the US Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, and a lot has transpired in the sporting world since then. Both the NHL, the District of Columbia and Monumental Sports And Entertainment have made major strides in implementing sports betting platforms within the league and within the District of Columbia.

Today, Capital One Arena now boasts the first operating in-arena sports book in the United States, and is in the process of finishing up construction of a new, state-of-the-art sports book facility in the arena.

The District now has there own sports betting app (Gambet DC) run by the DC Lottery, and there is a new privately run sportsbook ‘Handle 19’, located at 319 E Pennsylvania Ave. SE, that is set to open next month.

NoVa Caps has been covering the birth of sports betting in the NHL and the DMV region since the repeal of the Sports Protection Act, and do so as an educational and informational resource to our readers.

In our latest post we present a chronology of events, partnerships and legislation enacted in the run-up to the launch of sports betting in the region and birth of sports betting in the NHL.

Timeline To  A Wager
The following is a running timeline generated by NoVa Caps that details the chronological events prior to the implementation of sports betting in Washington, DC. The timeline also incorporates key dates and events for the NHL’s entry into the sports betting industry.

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.

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 an 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 1, 2018, The Washington Post released a video which featured Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, detailing his vision for the future of sports betting.

On October 29th, 2018, the NHL named MGM Resorts the first official sports betting partner of the League.

In early November, 2018, theNHL 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.

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 platform had 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 could 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 restaurant, 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.

October 15, 2020 – Sports book operator William Hill released a first look at the new sports book located at Capital One Arena. The sports book is set to open in early 2021. William Hill’s release included several renderings of the interior at the new facility, which will be located in the old Green Turtle location at Capital One Arena. (More here)

October 23, 2020 – The National Hockey League (NHL®) and the American Gaming Association (AGA) announced a partnership to promote responsible gaming activity through the Have A Game Plan.® Bet Responsibly. public service campaign.

Through the partnership, the NHL will use league-owned, in-arena, and digital marketing inventory for co-branded videoboard images, public address announcements, and animations of hockey-specific marketing materials that encourage responsible sports betting. The league will provide unique assets for each club in legal sports betting markets, including arena, desktop and mobile, and email applications.

A lot has transpired over the last 30 months, but there is so much more on the way.  The NHL is in the process of implementing new data generation, aggregation and processing systems (puck and player tracking) that will enable real-time, in-game betting, among other next-generation features.

DC will also evolve, as new real-time betting applications will ultimately be deployed that will allow fans to wager in real time, from their seats, or at the sportsbook  (Will Ovi make this penalty shot?).

Much more to come…

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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