Sportsbook Officially Opens Inside Capital One Arena

Screencap: Darren Rovell

The box office at Capital One Arena was originally transformed into a sportsbook at the end of last July. The temporary facility was implemented to provide a temporary sportsbook until construction on a permanent facility inside Capital One Arena was completed. The temporary sportsbook, complete with betting windows and self-serve kiosks, was the first for an American sports venue.

Wednesday morning Capital One Arena opened their permanent facility inside the arena (formerly the Green Turtle). The occasion was marked with a live broadcast and official ribbon-cutting by Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.

The new facility, operated in partnership with William Hill U.S., marks the first-ever sports betting venue to operate within a pro sports arena in the U.S.. It also includes a restaurant concept by Michelin-star Chef Nicholas Stefanelli.

The two-story, 18,000-square-foot space, will allow patrons to place bets at 17 betting windows and 12 self-service kiosks located throughout the facility, which is located at the corner of F and Sixth streets NW.

The new sportsbook includes a 1,500-square-foot LED screen wrapping around its exterior that will show live scores and odds, as well as more than 100 TV screens throughout several bar and lounge areas. There’s a small jumbotron positioned just above the facility’s street-level entrance, as well as a large outdoor patio along F street. The space’s second floor includes direct access to Capital One Arena.

There is also a broadcast studio that will be used to host live television and radio shows, as well as two VIP areas and a private dining and entertainment space. Design elements pay homage to the history of sports and local professional teams, including baseball stitching incorporated into the staircase railing, vintage lockers featured in the main bar, local sports memorabilia throughout the space and sketches of local arenas printed on the ceiling.

Photo: William Hill U.S.

The sportsbook will be open from 10 a.m. to midnight each day, which Leonsis hopes will activate a facility that generally sits dark without fans in the building. The facility will be open 365 days a year.

“We wanted to lead the way in taking the stigma out of gambling,” Leonsis told reporters Wednesday. “We know we’re an exemplar and everyone will be watching how we execute.”

According to the Washington Business Journal, the Nationals are moving closer to opening their own in-stadium sportsbook in partnership with BetMGM, while D.C. United plans to do so as well at Audi Field in partnership with FanDuel.

The prospect of a sportsbook has also been used as an enticement for the Washington Football Team to build a new stadium, with lawmakers in both Virginia and Maryland passing laws to enable such a change.

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.

Sports betting officially became legal in Virginia on July 1, 2020, courtesy of the passage of HB 896 and SB 384 by the state legislature earlier in the year and the subsequent signing of the legislation into law by Gov. Ralph Northam. The law is the result of multiple years of deliberation in the normally conservative state.

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.

May 26, 2021 – Sportsbook formally opens inside Capital One Arena.

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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