The worst-kept secret in DC sports betting is out: Ted Leonsis will attach a sportsbook to Capital One Arena.
Leonsis discussed Wednesday what he previously discussed as a possibility: the former Greene Turtle restaurant could convert into a sportsbook. Patrons will be able to enter the DC sports betting location without holding a ticket for an event, according to Leonsis.
— 106.7 The Fan (@1067theFan) March 27, 2019
How Capital One Arena sportsbook might work
Leonsis, who owns the arena, went into some potential details about how one of the more interesting DC sports betting options might function:
- Accessible from outside the arena to everyone
- Accessible from inside the arena during certain events, depending on which league and which game
- Ability to settle bets at the facility in real-time
The concept of turning the former Greene Turtle into a sports betting facility is not new, but some of the details certainly are. Leonsis spoke about the project during the American Gaming Association’s Sports Betting Executive Summit in Washington, D.C.
The DC sports betting landscape
The part about which events will include access from inside could become interesting. Capital One Arena hosts the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the NBA’s Washington Wizards, and both leagues work in partnership with MGM Resorts.
Operators such as MGM do not have access to the overall DC sports betting market though. The DC City Council rushed through a contract to enable its lottery provider Intralot to run all sports betting in the district — with one notable exception.
The DC sports betting law carves out two-block exclusivity zones around four Washington-area facilities for retail sportsbooks:
- Capital One Arena
- Audi Field
- Nationals Park
- St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena
The bill also appears to clear the way for non-Intralot operators to take part within those zones:
The current language is somewhat vague, but each appears to be permitted to offer on-site mobile betting using either in-house or third-party platforms. That language reads like Mississippi‘s version of mobile: on-site only.
Each will enjoy a two-block exclusivity zone, inside of which no competition is allowed. These licenses cost $250,000 apiece and are valid for five years.
Timeline for DC sports betting
While some proponents of Intralot’s DC sports betting contract remain embroiled in controversy, launch appears to be on track for fall.
District CFO Jeff DeWitt pushed the Intralot deal as a vehicle to starting legal sports betting by football season. He contended a normal competitive bidding process could delay the start by more than two years.
DeWitt also said DC would cede a first-mover advantage by bidding normally. That looks to be incorrect, though, as Maryland pushed back plans for sports betting and Virginia also will not start until 2020 at the earliest.