MLB Welcomes In-Stadium Sportsbooks on Opening Day
Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images. Pictured: Rain pouring at Nationals Park
Pitchers at designated hitter, more playoff teams, expanded rosters; add in-stadium sportsbooks to the list of firsts for Major League Baseball this year.
Ahead of their Opening Day matchup against the New York Mets, the Washington Nationals unveiled their new joint-venture with BetMGM: a 4,000 square-foot sports bar fully stocked with wall to wall screens and betting kiosks. It’s the first in an emerging number of partnerships between MLB teams and big gaming brands.
“To be first in anything is always cool, but this is beyond cool,” said Chris Gumiela, vice president of marketing at MGM. “To engage an entire fan base, whether they be Nationals fans or visiting fans, is really something we hope to see evolve and just become a new part of the fan experience.”
Located just outside of the main gate, BetMGM Sportsbook at Nationals Park is open from 11 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Even fans without tickets can come place bets, though fans with tickets are not yet allowed to travel back and forth during games.
From Canada to D.C. ✈️
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Jousting for Stadiums
Betting brands across the country are now jousting for a presence at one of the other 29 MLB stadiums.
This week the Yankees and the Mets each announced plans to open their own sportsbooks with DraftKings and Caesars. The Chicago Cubs already have a deal in place to do the same at Wrigley Field.
By positioning the sportsbooks in parts of the stadium that don’t open up into main concourses, betting revenue is strategically shielded from the MLB’s revenue sharing system, allowing club owners to keep a larger share.
As more and more states legalize sports betting, eventually each stadium will have its own sportsbook. Currently 13 MLB teams play in legal betting jurisdictions, which will grow as more states legalize sports betting.
Leveraging More Partnerships
Despite baseball’s historic resistance to gambling, getting the retail location up and running was fairly easy, Gumiela said.
BetMGM’s existing partnership with the Nationals through an affiliate casino in nearby National Harbor positioned it to break ground on the in-stadium sportsbook once the District of Columbia legalized sports betting in 2020.
Beyond the physical location, the partnership authorized BetMGM’s mobile app within a two-block radius of the stadium, which is plastered with BetMGM advertising.
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The betting company has plans for the first NFL stadium sportsbook as well. It’s partnered with the Arizona Cardinals to open a 17,000-square-foot space ahead of the upcoming 2022 football season.
“Its all about awareness and putting a stamp on the expanded nature of MGM Resorts through BetMGM as a new brand,” Gumiela said. “There’s clearly a lot of publicity around sports betting whatever you go. Apart from delivering a great experience to fans the partnerships help us show the diversity of what we offer.”