Professional sports executives emerged from the pandemic starving to compensate for a year of lost revenue, and Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) found a solution: sports betting inside stadiums.
In May 2021, MSE — a private company that owns the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards, among other teams and sports brands — opened an 18,000-square-foot Caesars Sportsbook (CZR) inside Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. to create additional revenue for the arena.
“We think this is a 365-day destination spot,” MSE President of Business Operations Jim Van Stone said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above).
Capital One Arena typically holds 230 events each year that send roughly 3 million people through the stadium's turnstiles. And while the sportsbook opened up to an arena at full capacity on October 13, when the Capitals hosted their first NHL game of the season, the sportsbook’s biggest impact has come on days when the building used to be quiet.
For example, this fall, on days without events in the area, fans have filed into the sportsbook to watch Premier League soccer, college football, and NFL Sundays, leading Capital One Arena to become a “football facility,” Van Stone quipped.
“We think it's really opened up a lot of new and unique opportunities, and really probably some sports fans that traditionally wouldn't come down for either a hockey or basketball game,” Van Stone said. “And one of the things that we're so bullish on from an industry standpoint about this is that if we could take advantage of maybe those 100-plus dark days a year where we do boxing or MMA pay-per-views inside our building and connect it to the sportsbook, we think it's certainly a new revenue opportunity, but also a new fan engagement opportunity and helps us, you know, really build our core business.”
Van Stone said MSE is now early on trend that he believes is just beginning.
In New Jersey, which just became the first state to see gamblers bet $1 billion in a month, the Prudential Center — home of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils — recently launched the Playup Sports Lounge.
Madison Square Garden stakeholders have also shown interest in adding a sportsbook and attended the Capitals season opener to better understand in-stadium sportsbooks, according to Van Stone.
Still in its infancy, the Caesars Sportsbook inside Capital One Arena will serve as a case study for the other early-adopter arenas that are hoping to gain more time and attention from fans.
“We're hopeful that [fans] come two or three hours before a Caps game, you know, take in the festivities of the sportsbook,” Van Stone said. “And then after the game, you know, stay for a couple of hours and enjoy the end of the evening with a nice nightcap and maybe a West Coast hockey game.”