Washington Wizards & Capitals Open First Arena Sportsbook to Bring Ted Leonsis’ Dream to Fruition
Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for William Hill U.S.. Pictured: Ted Leonsis
Long before sports betting was legalized in the United States, Ted Leonsis had dreamed of being first.
The first sports owner to have a sportsbook inside a U.S. sports arena or stadium, that is.
Leonsis, who owns the Washington Wizards and Capitals, cut the ribbon on the William Hill Sportsbook on Wednesday morning. The public can make their first bets at noon.
“We want to be innovators and we wanted to lead the way in taking the stigma out of gambling,” said Leonsis.
Leonsis said the sportsbook is a step towards the reinvention in how the arena plays a more intricate part of the community. The sportsbook will be open from 10 AM to midnight, even on non-game and non-event days.
“Arenas will become the natural home for sportsbooks around the world,” Leonsis said.
Though the dream was clear to Leonsis, the path wasn’t. Washington D.C. legalized sports gambling in late 2019, but there was a significant delay due to, what else, politics.
The end result was the legalization of betting through the D.C. lottery’s Gambet app and an allowance of a rough two mile radius around Capital One Arena for their partner, William Hill.
The 20,000 square foot sportsbook and bar, filled with kiosks and tables, are accessible from the street. Those attending NBA games will be able to enter the arena from the sportsbook by giving their ticket. NHL fans will have to exit onto the street and go in through the regular entrance, per league rules. The NHL is allowing kiosks on the concourse, while the NBA is not.
Bettors can sign up for the William Hill app anywhere and can cash out anywhere, but can only place bets inside the sportsbook or within the agreed to radius.
Capitals and Wizards games can be on the betting boards, though no one who works for either team can place bets. No employees of Monumental Sports, the parent company of the teams, work for the teams as well.
Caesars is now the owner of the William Hill brand through a $4 billion acquisition announced last month.
Monumental brought in Michelin-starred chef Nick Stefanelli to run the menu.