William Hill Sportsbook Opens in Capital One Arena
In 2019, Caesar’s Entertainment, and its recent acquisition William Hill, entered into an agreement with Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE), owner of the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., as well as the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards, to open the first sportsbook in a professional sports arena in North America. The William Hill facility began operation on Wednesday after taking bets in a temporary location since July and includes a full service restaurant, bar, and state-of-the-art sportsbook.
Although the Washington Capitals were knocked out of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs last week, the Washington Wizards are still alive in the NBA playoffs and currently playing the Philadelphia 76ers in a first-round playoff series, trailing two games to none. When the series resumes in Washington on Saturday, fans will be able to take advantage of the groundbreaking location to place wagers on the game and other sporting events. Plus, it would be a more pleasant atmosphere for Wizards guard Russell Westbrook, who had a scuffle with a Philadelphia fan after the spectator threw a bucket of popcorn at the former NBA MVP.
The sportsbook facility is located within the confines of the arena, but their agreement specifies that all wagering revenue is retained by William Hill, with MSE sharing in the food and beverage proceeds. The arrangement was the first of its kind to be finalized, but it has already spawned at least two other similar deals, with what will surely be many more to follow.
The Overturn of PASPA
In 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that had prohibited sports betting in every state except Nevada. The ruling gave all states the ability to approve the practice, with over half of them passing legislation allowing sports betting.
As a result, entities that had shunned gambling because it was believed it would be damaging to competitive integrity began to embrace sports wagering in ways that would have been unimaginable a few years before. Sports networks, leagues, and franchises started to change their impressions of gambling as the momentum behind state approval accelerated.
With sports betting marching toward legal status on a national basis, probably within ten years, the natural progression would put it on a collision course with the very organizations actually conducting the events on which wagers are placed. The legal, regulated status within states that have approved sports betting provides leagues some level of comfort in that they can have access to data that could point to any nefarious activities that threaten competitions.
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The Trend is for More Arena Based Sportsbooks
From a bettors’ perspective, all of this legalization and normalization of the industry is nothing but positive, making it easier to place bets either online or in an ever-expanding number of retail sportsbook locations. This brings us back to this week’s opening of the William Hill sportsbook in downtown Washington, D.C., just steps from Chinatown and in an area that has been in need of dining and entertainment.
Caesars has since reached an agreement with the Arizona Diamondbacks to operate a similar destination in the plaza area outside Chase Field, their home stadium in downtown Phoenix. This followed a deal between the Phoenix Suns and FanDuel to open a sportsbook at their NBA arena, hopefully opening the floodgates for more arena and stadium-based sportsbook entertainment areas.