Image credit: William Hill
In the rapidly expanding, ultra-competitive US betting sector, Capital One Arena recently emerged first past the post amongst the country’s sports venues.
In May, the home of the Washington Wizards NBA basketball franchise and the Washington Capitals NHL ice hockey team broke new ground by unveiling a state-of-the-art space for bettors and fans.
The first ever sports betting venue within a US professional sports facility opened through a partnership between Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) – owner of the Capitals, Wizards and their home arena – and betting operator William Hill.
The William Hill Sportsbook provides a “preeminent fan experience” while also serving as an “exemplar” to the industry, MSE said.
The two-storey, 18,000 square-foot venue features 17 betting windows and 12 self-service betting kiosks, as well as Verizon 5G Wi-Fi capability so fans can place wagers on mobile devices through the William Hill app.
MSE leased the space to William Hill on a 10-year contract, viewing the Sportsbook as a means to attract a younger fanbase, provide a unique experience and drive more use out of Capital One Arena.
With three years having passed since the US Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting, opening up the possibility of state-by-state legalisation, the industry represents a burgeoning, if still relatively fledgling, part of the US sports experience. With this in mind, MSE has asked William Hill to make the sports betting element of the Sportsbook’s offering understandable for inexperienced punters.
However, Capital One Arena’s Sportsbook is not just about offering a dedicated space for fans looking to gamble. Visitors have been promised a premium game-day experience whether they are attending a Capitals or Wizards game or watching out-of-town games in the Sportsbook, thanks to a sports-bar menu crafted by Michelin-starred chef Nicolas Stefanelli.
More than 100 television screens adorn the Sportsbook, including four positioned on all sides of a jumbotron that hangs from the ceiling in the centre of the venue that is a replica of the one inside Capital One Arena at centre ice/centre court. A custom, 1,500 square-foot LED screen wraps the entire facility, with the goal of offering visitors the best viewing experience for multiple games across various sports simultaneously.
The Sportsbook also includes two VIP areas and a private dining and entertainment space. Design elements pay homage to the history of sports and local professional teams, including baseball stitching incorporated into the staircase railing, vintage lockers featured in the main bar, local sports memorabilia throughout the space and sketches of local arenas printed on the ceiling.
Open all year
The Sportsbook and restaurant are open daily, year-round, and are accessible to the public while offering direct access to and from Capital One Arena during select ticketed events.
“Monumental Sports & Entertainment is proud to have worked with William Hill and Caesars Entertainment, a proven leader and innovator in sports betting, to provide the preeminent fan experience and serve as exemplars to the industry as first-in-class and best-in-class,” MSE founder and CEO, Ted Leonsis, said at the opening.
“Providing a data-driven, technologically-advanced environment in a beautiful, approachable space with fine dining options provided by chef Stefanelli will further enhance the indelible memories we create nightly at Capital One Arena, and draw even more visitors to our historic downtown D.C. neighbourhood.”
First of many
Where MSE has broken new ground, others will follow. Indeed, a number of similar announcements have come this year from other US sports teams keen to introduce sports betting experiences within their facilities.
In January, the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team entered into a partnership with BetMGM to open a new branded sportsbook at Nationals Park.
In April, it was announced that Phoenix Suns Arena would open a FanDuel luxury retail sportsbook location in the coming months after sports betting was legalised in Arizona. The following month, Caesars Entertainment struck a partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks to build a sportsbook and bar concept on the plaza adjacent to the MLB team’s home stadium, Chase Field.
With sports betting revenue from US commercial gaming casinos rocketing 270% year-on-year to $961.1m in the first quarter of 2021, few would bet against many more sportsbooks emerging in stadiums over the coming years.