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What’s Next: The Future of Legalized Sports Betting

June 30, 2019
The Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the federal ban on sports gaming in May 2018 cleared the way for legalized sports betting across the country. New Jersey led the way to become the first state other than Nevada to authorize sports wagering, and since then, 15 states, including Washington, DC, and most recently, New York and Illinois, have passed legislation to legalize sports wagering. 

 The professional sports leagues have also become increasingly supportive of legal sports wagering. In fact, Major League Soccer just authorized its teams to accept advertising and sponsorship from gaming companies and casinos. DC’s legislation specifically contemplates sports wagering at the city’s sports stadiums, including Nationals Park (which is owned by the city) and the new Entertainment and Sports Arena (which is owned and operated by the city), as well as Capital One Arena and Audi Field.  

 The DC Council and the DC Office of Lottery and Gaming will ultimately dictate how gaming will operate and be regulated in the District and our hope has always been that they will create an open, competitive marketplace for mobile sports betting.  A competitive marketplace for mobile sports betting will give fans choices and will give DC’s small businesses more opportunity to tap into this new revenue; and we want the city to benefit in the best way possible. Neither Monumental nor any of its teams has had any involvement with the DC Office of the Lottery’s proposed mobile offering or its proposed vendor, Intralot.  Our focus in supporting sports gaming in the District is on leading the way by partnering with an eminently responsible and reputable sports book operator to operate the best possible sports book for our fans and our teams at our arena. 

I have long been a proponent of the legalization of sports gaming and bringing the multibillion-dollar illegal sports wagering industry out of the shadows and into the light. It is better for fans, consumers, teams and leagues to have sports gaming happen legally so that data can be collected, and any irregularities can be identified and investigated, and consumers can be protected.  The integrity of sports is paramount, and I firmly believe that having regulated, legal sports gambling will preserve that integrity far more effectively than furtive, shady, illegal sports wagering. In addition, the revenue generated through legal sports wagering will benefit local communities. Sports wagering is a new frontier for professional sports, and I look forward to what is yet to come. 

Despite historic legal restrictions, sports betting has been happening for years in the U.S. – at Las Vegas casinos, on illegal websites, at local bars. According to a recent gaming industry study, it’s estimated that offshore bookmakers are earning nearly $3 billion in revenue from people in the U.S. who are betting illegally, while 12-15 million Americans are currently active illegal bettors. This is revenue that should be subject to taxes that will support our local communities.

Data is an increasingly critical component of team training, sporting events, the fan experience and also,  sports gaming. I have shared my vision on numerous occasions for what the future of sports betting would look like in terms of integrating data into the sports gaming experience.  Stats have always been the lifeblood of sports fandom and thanks to technology, a fan today has more data available to digest than ever before: player movements, biometrics, hyper-detailed opponent history.  Data analytics have become integral to a teams’ success, but also to diehard fans’ enjoyment of the game – and sports betting is built on a rock-solid foundation of data, plain and simple.  As our data analytics have gotten better, sports betting has only gotten more popular. 

It’s not hard to imagine a very near future where fans can be on their devices analyzing data, placing bets and communicating with each other in real time during games. And I envision one day Capital One Arena being a place where fans can do just that.

Yes, it is true – as I noted above, we are going to try and make Capital One Arena the first arena in the country with a sports book. I see this being something like a Genius Bar in an Apple store – a place where fans can learn and understand gaming opportunities, and also bet on live games. We will lease a location in our building to an independent sports book operator who would manage and be solely responsible for the business of the sports book and ensure that we as the team franchises never touch the money. Together, we will work to build a sports book of the future that will be a model for others to follow.
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