Washington, D.C. is the center of American history. On Monday, it officially staked its claim to a piece of sports betting history.
Capital One Arena, home to both the Washington Capitals (NHL) and Washington Wizards (NBA), became the first professional sports venue in the United States to offer betting teller windows, along with self-service kiosks.
It is also the first bricks-and-mortar sportsbook (operated by William Hill US) in the District of Columbia.
“This was a big weekend for us with a soft opening last Saturday and the official opening today here in D.C. and another sportsbook of ours opening at Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Illinois,” said David Grolman, president of retail operations, William Hill US. “With no casinos in the D.C. area, this was a logical fit for us to team with a sports arena and its tenants to provide options to the betting public.”
Seven teller windows and 10 self-serve kiosks will be made available to the public in the will call ticket area of the arena. The facility will be open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT.
“With the D.C. opening, people will come in and make their bets and leave, whereas if at a casino or racetrack where a sportsbook is located, you will tend to hang out much longer,” said Grolman. “I’ve been really pleased with how our re-openings have been going across the country as we and sports come back from COVID-19. All of our rules and protocols are in place with social distancing markers on property as well as shields between bettors and tellers.”
Design and construction on a permanent William Hill Sports Book within the arena are underway, and it is expected to open in this fall, pending regulatory approval.
In 2018, William Hill had opened a sports betting lounge within the home of the New Jersey Devils, the Prudential Center, in Newark, N.J. where lines for all sporting events were posted and you could sign up for a William Hill online betting account. However, no teller windows and self-service kiosks were on the premises.
Massachusetts a mess
Massachusetts is having some issues passing and making into law sports betting in the Commonwealth.
State Senator Michael D. Brady (D), who represents the 2nd Plymouth and Bristol District of Massachusetts, had submitted a sports betting amendment to a state house bill H 4887 that was going to provide funding for non-profit organizations and other projects in the millions of dollar range. However, the state senate decided not to approve any sports betting language for S 2842, the amendment to the House’s bill.
So now Brady wants to get other entities involved that would have a major impact and influence on getting sports gambling approved in the state such as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the Massachusetts State Lottery.
Currently, Massachusetts residents must now travel to nearby states New Hampshire and Rhode Island to make any sports wagers.
DraftKings and FanDuel, the state’s three casinos (Encore Boston Harbor-Everett; Plainridge Park Casino (also a harness racing track) and MGM Springfield), as well as two more operators that have sportsbooks in two other states for more than one year can apply for sports betting licenses once and when the bill is approved. We will keep an eye on this and follow up in the coming weeks.