The nation’s capital will soon become a sports betting haven within the Beltway region, and billionaire Ted Leonsis can’t wait to get started.
The owner of Washington D.C.’s professional hockey and basketball teams – the Capitals and Wizards, respectively – made headlines in March when he announced that an onsite sportsbook would be built within the teams’ shared Capital One Arena.
In the wake of sports betting passage, Leonsis told local media outlet WTOP in January that he envisions a full-scale luxury sportsbook to become a prominent attraction at Capital One Arena:
“My expectation is that there will be built a very, very high-end world-class restaurant called the Sports Book, there will be televisions showing games from all over the world and that people will be able to come in and watch games and dine and bet.
I want to make it like an Apple Genius bar. I don’t want to make it a cocktail lounge.”
Capital Takes Fast Track to Regulate Sports Betting
That news capped off a whirlwind few months for the District, where city lawmakers successfully passed the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act in December only weeks after the bill was introduced.
One month later, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser signed the bill into law, and by February, the implementation process was “fast-tracked” via a vote to designate the city’s lottery provider Intralot as the sole operator of online/mobile sportsbook services.
The District of Columbia Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board is eyeing the start of NFL football this Fall to launch brick and mortar sportsbooks.
And with no existing casinos or racetracks to use as venues, these land-based bet shops will be housed within four exclusive locations:
- Capital One Arena
- Audi Field
- Nationals Park
- St. Elizabeth’s East Entertainment and Sports Arena
While owners of the other three venues haven’t made their intentions public like the high-profile Leonsis, it’s clear that Capital One Arena will become the city’s sports betting hub.
Leonsis Looks to Bring Las Vegas Vibe to D.C.
After obtaining one of four available Class A gaming licenses for $250,000, Leonsis will be free to turn a now-defunct restaurant within Capital One Arena into retail sportsbook.
And as he told WUSA-9 News in February, Leonsis sees sports betting as a golden opportunity to bring additional business to the venue during an arena’s traditional downtime:
“The vision would be that we would take our building and re-imagine it.
Instead of it being a building that opens at 6 at night and closes at 10 o’clock. We pay for this building 24 hours a day. And we have a cage up! We don’t want anyone going into the building!
It’s really remarkable. As opposed to when you go into Las Vegas and they keep it open 24 hours a day and they’re pumping in oxygen.”
More recently – during a panel discussion titled “The Future of Everything” on May 21st -the influential local figure spoke about his desire to bring badly needed regulation to an industry that currently exists as a black market:
“People are doing it. Whenever you bring things into the sunlight, it’s going to be better.
My belief is that it’s no different than Wall Street.”