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Leonsis: Wizards, Capitals Arena Will Have Sportsbook Inside

Mar 27, 2019 1:20 PM EDT
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Ted Leonsis.

  • Washington Wizards/Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said on Wednesday that Capital One Arena will have an active sportsbook inside once Washington, D.C. officially legalized sports betting.
  • Back in December, the D.C. city council voted to to pass a bill that will legalize sports betting in the district.

Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, Capitals and revealed on Wednesday that he has intentions of putting a sportsbook inside the Capital One Arena, where the teams play.

If it happens, and nothing comes before it, it would be the first of its kind in the U.S.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which Leonsis owns, announced earlier this month that it had bought The Greene Turtle sports bar out of its lease three years early. The Greene Turtle technically isn’t inside the arena. It’s on the bottom floor of the building that houses the arena.

While it’s been speculated that Leonsis was going to go through with a sportsbook, Wednesday was the first time he confirmed it publicly.

“There will be a sportsbook inside the building accessible from the outside and depending on the league and depending on the event, it might be accessible from the inside as well,” said Leonsis, after appearing on a panel at the American Gaming Association’s Sports Betting Executive Summit in Maryland.

While gamblers in New Jersey and Nevada can place bets inside pro sports venues with mobile apps, Leonsis envisions and brick-and-mortar operation with a partner to create the distance necessary to maintain integrity.

“I don’t think people are going to come to us and say, ‘The guy missed a 3-point shot, I didn’t cover the spread,’” Leonsis said.

“We need to find a partner that says, ‘Yes, that’s what we want to do too and not just want to do the cookie cutter and do what has always been done.’”

Leonsis, who has gambling investment in many companies that include SportRadar, WinView and DraftKings, said he is very aware that what is done here will be seen as a testing ground for what is to come.

“You can’t hide your head in the sand,” said Leonsis, speaking of the responsibility to destigmatize gambling. “When we were building chat rooms and instant messaging (at AOL), we never thought they a foreign government would be able to try to influence an election.”

Washington D.C.’s city council approved sports betting last year, which included granting a license at Capital One to allow for a brick-and-mortar operation. The city council awarded Intralot, which runs the D.C. Lottery, with the sole right to run a mobile app, a measure Leonsis and others have strongly opposed.

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