Caesars Entertainment is reportedly in talks with Major League Soccer (MLS) club D.C. United about bringing a sportsbook to the team’s home pitch, Audi Field.
The gaming company and the team are hoping to have the sportsbook operational by the spring, according to media reports. The 2020 MLS season starts in February.
We are absolutely excited about the opportunity to partner with Caesars. It would be an incredible opportunity to engage with our fans,” said D.C. United’s chief business officer, Andy Bush, in an interview with the Washington Post.
News of a potential partnership between Caesars, one of the largest operators on the Las Vegas Strip, and D.C. United comes as the nation’s capital again recently delayed the debut of a sports betting mobile application. The app was originally slated to be operational this fall, but that timeline was pushed back to January 2020. Earlier this week, officials from D.C. Lottery said they hope to have it up and running sometime in the first quarter.
A Caesars pact with the MLS franchise could also include a jersey sponsorship for the upcoming season.
United isn’t the only professional team in the District looking to bring a retail sports betting location to its home field. Ted Leonsis, chairman and CEO of Monumental Sports, which owns the Capital One Arena, has long been pushing to bring a sportsbook to that venue.
The NHL’s Washington Capitals, the NBA’s Wizards, Arena Football League’s Valor and WNBA’s Mystics call Capital One Arena home. Last month, Monumental Sports announced a partnership with William Hill, one of the world’s largest sportsbook operators, that allows the UK-based company to manage a book at Capital One Arena.
Should Caesars and D.C. United come to an agreement, it’s expected that a sports book at Audi Field would feature a bar and restaurant and be open to the public every day, with ticket holders being able to access it on the club’s game days.
However, the deal hasn’t been sealed yet, and it’s not known if the sportsbook would occupy currently existing space at the stadium, or require new construction.
“We’re interested in a partnership with D.C. United, but we aren’t there yet,” said Caesars executive Richard Broome.
Audi Field, located in the Southwest part of the District, is one of the newer MLS stadiums, having opened in July 2018. Its seating capacity is 20,000.
D.C. United would have to pay a $125,000 licensing fee to bring a sportsbook to Audi Field. The city’s proposed tax rate of 10 percent on sports betting revenue is seen as attractive to gaming companies, as is the fact that neither Maryland nor Virginia, the states closest to Washington, D.C., have legalized sports betting.
Assuming Caesars and D.C. United come to terms and a retail sports wagering location is opened at Audi Field, the only DC-based professional sports venue that would be without a sports betting area and partner would be Nationals Park, home of the World Series champion Washington Nationals.
However, a 35,000-square-foot entertainment venue will soon be attached to the baseball stadium, and it’s widely expected a sportsbook will be included.
The NFL’s Washington Redskins play at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., freezing the team out of in-stadium betting until that state approves sports wagering.