Ted Leonsis, the billionaire who controls three professional sports teams in Washington, DC, says incorporating sportsbooks into stadiums and arenas better utilizes the real estate assets during off periods.
Leonsis’s company, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owns the NBA Washington Wizards, NHL Washington Capitals, and WNBA Washington Mystics. He also owns the Capital One Arena in DC – home of the Wizards and Caps.
Leonsis is planning to incorporate a sports betting lounge that more closely mimics a full-fledged casino at the Capital One Arena in an effort to better utilize the space when his teams aren’t in action.
By opening up a world-class sportsbook, the building will come alive during the day, Leonsis said at Forbes’ 30 Under 30 event in Detroit. “We want to be able to take advantage of the investment we have in real estate.”
Worth an estimated $1.3 billion by Forbes, Leonsis amassed his fortune by selling his marketing communications firm to American Online in the early 1990s. He then became a senior executive with AOL and helped substantially grow the internet company’s membership.
Earlier this month, Monumental Sports announced a partnership with sports betting behemoth William Hill to bring a sportsbook to Capital One Arena. Leonsis says the venue – located just steps from the National Mall – will soon have an area where fans can place legal wagers on the games they’re watching live in-person, as well as others across the country.
The billionaire says the goal is to “enhance the fan experience.” But while live sports might not be occurring on the floor below at Capital One, the sportsbook will be open when the Wizards and Capitals aren’t in action at home.
Leonsis says businesses have long sought alternative uses for their real estate assets. But aside from the occasional concert, many sports venues sit vacant when their home teams aren’t in town.
A look at the Capital One Arena calendar for November shows that the venue is scheduled to sit dark eight of the 30 days – or 26.6 percent of the time.
DC owns the land on which the Arena sits, and leases it to Monumental Sports. Leonsis says he’s on the hook for more than $36 million a year, a “deal” he has described as “the worst building deal in professional sports.”
Betting on Sports Betting
DC is governed by the federal government. Following the inaction of Congress to object to the DC Council’s decision to move forward with legalizing sports betting, the district’s Lottery approved guidelines to regulate the gambling activity.
Sports venue books such as Leonsis’s will have a two-block monopoly, and will additionally be permitted to accept mobile wagers in that vicinity. Permits will be issued at a cost of $500,000.
Bars can also bring sports betting to their watering holes after partnering with a reputable sports betting operator at a cost of $100,000. Mobile bets will be permitted in each establishment.
The DC Lottery will allow retailers to incorporate sports betting kiosks at their stores at a cost of $5,000 per location. The odds will be operated by Intralot, which received a $215 million no-bid contract last summer with the Lottery.