The William Hill Sportsbook opened on Wednesday at the Capital One arena in Washington and was the first sportsbook to be operated in a US arena.
The development shows the “breathtaking” change in the relationship between sports leagues and team ownership and sports betting companies in recent years, said Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment.
Other sports owners are closely monitoring whether a similar model can be applied in their arenas.
“It feels very natural to be in this building and be able to go to the arena and a venue like this to place bets and I think you will see it stay that way across the country,” said Reeg in an interview with CNBC.
Located in the middle of the country’s powerhouse, the two-story, 18,000-square-foot venue will serve as a 365 days-a-year destination for weather. Players have access to up to 20 betting windows and over a dozen self-service kiosks where they can place bets.
Sports betting also has a state-of-the-art broadcast studio that will host Monumental Sport’s “By the Book” sports betting show. In the new facility you can dine with Michelin Chef Nicholas Stefanelli.
In the three years since the US Supreme Court overturned the law to protect professional and amateur sports, the sports world has been turned upside down. The law, also known as the PASPA or Bradley Act, banned most states from offering legal sports betting.
In 2017, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference after an owners meeting in Phoenix, doubling the league and property owners’ opposition to legalization.
“I think we’re still strongly against legalized sports play,” Goodell said at the time. “The integrity of our game is number one. We won’t compromise here.”
Today, many of the same people who spoke out against gambling in sports see this as a new frontier, especially as the financial losses associated with pandemics continue to mount. Sports teams have also found that betting not only makes more money, but also more engaged fans.
Monumental Sports and Entertainment owns several sports teams in the Washington area, including the Capitals and the Wizards. Its CEO, billionaire Ted Leonsis, has worked hard to get sports leagues and owners to adopt legalized sports betting.
“You are looking around in that sports betting,” said Leonsis. “It feels like day trading, right, for the Millennial and Gen Z, a very well educated, highly compensated person who [can] Come and buy season tickets – buy tickets for thousands of dollars – to have an interest now, to be able to come in and enjoy the way all of this data is presented. It’s very synergistic for the leagues and teams. “
The William Hill Sportsbook is the only new store to open in downtown Washington during the pandemic, and the money it generated helped boost the district’s revenue.
Caesars has a growing number of activities in sports facilities. The contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks gives the company access to mobile betting and exclusive sponsorship opportunities. Caesars also entered into a multi-year agreement with Major League Baseball to become one authorized game operator of the league, in addition to his most recent deal with the National soccer league.
The partnership agreements are part of a larger industry trend as professional sports leagues favor sports betting. The National Basketball Association has signed various contracts with The Score, DraftKings, William Hill and MGM Resorts, among others.
And the NFL – whose commissioner spoke out strongly against legalized sports betting – now has three official gaming partners: DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars.
In February, the NHL added their fourth sports betting partner, PointsBet Participation in the company.
“The reality is you have to adapt to the way your customer wants to consume your product and sports betting really fits where the world is today. … We want constant activity, constant action and sports betting that contribute exactly to that, “said Reeg.