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Wizards, Capitals to have first in-arena sportsbook in US professional sports

Legalized sports betting is coming to a team venue near you!

Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis sits court side against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Verizon Center. Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The growth of sports betting in the United States is picking up speed as more states legalize after two decades of prohibition. Numerous states have legalized sports betting in the past year and a half since the Supreme Court ended federal prohibition, and the next step is further league involvement.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment announced Thursday evening that they will be partnering with William Hill to bring a sports betting facility to Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. Monumental owners the arena, but more importantly also owns the Washington Wizards NBA team and Washington Capitals NHL team.

Monumental Chairman Ted Leonsis has been one of the biggest proponents of legalized sports betting for several years now, so it is fitting he takes the first step in breaking down a significant barrier. Sports leagues and their member teams have started taking on sponsorship and marketing opportunities with casinos and sportsbooks, but Leonsis is taking this a big step further by adding gambling to his facility.

Leonsis has made it clear this should be viewed as a landlord-tenant relationship, like any other tenant of Capital One Arena (e.g. the McDonalds located out front). William Hill will pay rent, but Monumental will not receive any cut of revenue or commissions off gambling profits.

It is important to note that while Washington, DC has legalized sports betting, they are still in the process of sorting through vendor issues. Allegations of corruption in a no-bid process for the District’s sports gambling contract have resulted in an injunction that is delaying the roll-out of sports betting. It will eventually be resolved, but sports betting is on hold until that gets sorted out.

Washington, DC does not have any casinos, which is resulting in a unique approach to sports betting. Any business is allowed to apply for a license, although certain businesses like sports venues will have a stronger license than other businesses like a sports bar. Nationals Park (Washington Nationals) and Audi Field (DC United) are expected to apply for licenses to host sportsbooks as well.

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