William Hill Officially Launches Sports Betting Operations in Washington D.C.

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Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images.

William Hill officially launched its Washington D.C. operations on Monday, though it wasn’t how they pictured the grand opening.

The brand, which has more retail sportsbooks than any company in America, didn’t set up inside of Capital One Arena, but inside of its ticket office. The goal is still to open the 20,000 square foot, two-story sportsbook by this fall.

D.C. legalized sports betting, run by Intralot — the gaming company that runs the municipality’s lottery — in Dec. 2018. But it wasn’t until Friday that William Hill got its Class A license, a $500,000 cost for four years, to run a retail operation.

“The box office has 15 windows and due to social distancing we have three or four writers doing the walk-up business,” said David Grolman, president of retail operations for William Hill’s United States business. “Then we have 10 kiosks that are six feet apart.”

Monumental Sports, which owns the Capitals and the Wizards, is separate from William Hill’s operations. No employees work for both organizations and revenue that Monumental gets won’t depend on how well the William Hill sportsbook performs. The total separation between the two outfits is designed to avoid the owners of the Capitals and Wizards pushing any betting volume for the home teams.

Although the New Jersey Devils have sportsbook lounges in the Prudential Center, including one sponsored by William Hill, the only way a bettor can bet within them is to use his or her phone.

When active, the sportsbook in D.C. will be the first U.S. arena or stadium to have writers and kiosks, though the goal is to get bettors to eventually bet on mobile as much as possible. In states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, more than 80% of the business is now mobile, where the only location that matters is what state the bettor is betting in. D.C. is a little different, as the mobile radius will be within two blocks of the arena.

For now, Grolman said, the goal is to get people familiar with the William Hill brand, though the sportsbook will be taking in names of people who want to sign up for a players card, which gives them greater flexibility on bet limits.

When the sportsbook opens inside Capital One Arena, bettors will be able to enter from the street without a ticket when there’s a game. Ticketed fans, when the arena has fans again, can enter the sports book, which has no view of the rink or the court, through the concourse during an NHL game. They would not be able to do that during an NBA game, meaning they’d have to enter by leaving the arena and walking into the sportsbook.

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