William Hill, a part of Caesars Entertainment, and Monumental Sports & Entertainment opened a sportsbook inside the Capital One Arena in Washington, becoming the first-ever sportsbook to operate inside a US stadium.
A “breathtaking” change
It has taken three years, since the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting, to see a sports betting venue opening within a US professional sports facility.
On Wednesday morning, Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s Capital One Arena became the first one in the country to ever open a sportsbook inside its walls. Monumental Sports, which owns the Wizards, Mystics, Capitals, and other teams, leased the space to sportsbook operator William Hill on a 10-year contract.
Commenting on the event, Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment said that the development shows the “breathtaking change in the relationship between sports leagues and team ownership and sport betting companies over the past several years”.
“This feels very natural to be in this building and to be able to walk into the arena and into a venue like this, to place bets, and I think you’re going to see this continue throughout the country,” Reeg said, in an interview with CNBC.
Betting brings fans and money
For a century, sports leagues were opposed to the legalisation of sports betting, thinking that fans would lose trust in the integrity of their game.
“I think we still strongly oppose legalised sports gambling. The integrity of our game is number one. We will not compromise on that.”, said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017.
But as pandemic-related financial losses continue to pile up, the frontier is thinning with sports teams finding that betting not only brings in more money but more engaged fans.
The sports industry will be watching to see if this new model can be applied in other cities or maybe in South America where William Hill has made the first steps to expand into its burgeoning gambling landscape, by acquiring Colombia licensed operator Alfabet SAS.