By Todd Shriber
The first retail sportsbook in the nation’s capitol is now open as the William Hill book at Capital One Arena debuted today at 4 p.m. local time, perhaps bringing with it an alternative to heavily criticized lines on the DC Lottery’s mobile application.
In what is the first sportsbook in the US at a sporting arena or stadium, William Hill will run seven betting windows and nine kiosks. Capital One Arena is home to the NHL’s Washington Capitals, the NBA’s Wizards and the WNBA’s Mystics. Those teams are owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, William Hill’s partner on the sportsbook.
Currently, part of the arena’s box office area is serving as the sportsbook, but those are temporary confines until a permanent venue, which is under construction, is completed. Monumental Sports – controlled by billionaire Ted Leonsis – owns and runs Capital One Arena.
We’ve come up with this temporary location as a way to allow our customers to bet on sports now that they are resuming, while we continue to work towards finalizing the permanent sports book, restaurant and bar concept we have always visualized,” said William Hill US CEO Joe Asher in a statement.
The Cap One Arena sportsbook is the first brick-and-mortar sports betting location in Washington, DC. Sports betting debuted in the District in May with DC Lottery’s GamBetDC app.
Maybe Relief for Bettors
GamBetDC has come criticism from bettors for what are perceived to be unfavorable lines and their gripes aren’t undfounded.
There have been reports of the app offering odds of -115 to -118 (bet $115 or $118 to win $100) on games that would normally carry odds of -110 (bet $110 to win $100). Soon after NASCAR restarted, DC Lottery was criticized for offering just two drivers in a race at “plus money” while bookmakers across the country typically offer the entire field at plus money for any given competition in that series.
For small players, the difference between -115 and -110 may be off little consequence, but for experienced gamblers that wager frequently, that extra $5 per bet can mean hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the course of a year.
DC Lottery doesn’t run away from this, noting its hold is higher than a traditional sportsbook because it’s aim is to raise revenue for the District, not enrich gamblers.
“Like the DC Lottery’s traditional lottery games, net revenues generated from GambetDC are returned to the District’s General Fund to directly benefit the residents and the economic vitality of the District of Columbia,” according to the Lottery.
The debut of the William Hill book at Capital Arena is well-timed. Major League Baseball (MLB) recently restarted and DC is home to the defending World Series champions Nationals.
Additionally, the Wizards are participating in the NBA seeding competition with seven games left after today’s tilt with the Phoenix Suns.
The NHL resumes Saturday with the Capitals returning to the ice on Monday.