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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Capital One Arena’s Sportsbook Debut Has Washington Residents Wanting More

Capital One Arena’s Sportsbook Debut Has Washington Residents Wanting More

The Snoqualmie Tribe in Washington became the first in the country to open sports betting at the Capital One Arena in September, but the state legislature is still lagging when it comes to online gambling.

Ceri Sinclair
Last updated: Dec 02, 2021 | Nov 30, 2021

The Snoqualmie Tribe in Washington became the first in the country to open sports betting at the Capital One Arena in September, but the state legislature is still lagging when it comes to online gambling. A recent bill to legalize online casinos and digital sportsbooks was shot down by the governor, but these new brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are determined to change the local government’s opinion on gambling.

When the arena’s sportsbook first opened, it had many residents in Washington D.C. wondering - is online sports betting legal? Unfortunately, for now, the law only extends to in-person sports betting, which is now open from 10am to midnight and has 17 kiosks ready for fans. Sports to bet on include college and pro football, basketball, boxing, baseball, golf, soccer, motorsports, tennis, mixed martial arts and hockey. Collegiate level sports and minor teams are not included.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s CEO, Ted Leonsis, told reporters, “we wanted to lead the way in taking the stigma out of gambling. We know we’re an exemplar and everyone will be watching how we execute.”

In a post-pandemic economy, many states are looking for something that will add tax revenue and jobs, which has led several states to legalize or expand their sports betting laws, along with online casino permissions.

For example, Wyoming, though it is the country’s least populous state, has gone above and beyond to draw people to online sports betting, rather than in-person like Washington D.C. Wyoming not only has a comprehensive system that allows patrons to place bets on dozens of sports from around the state, but has moved ahead to allow cryptocurrency bets, which is the future of the online gambling market. Connecticut has also gone ahead with a soft launch of websites allowing digital and mobile sportsbooks and casino betting within the last month.

However, legislators in Washington still aren’t sure. For one, it’s a state with a large tribal population and gambling has long been since limited to tribal lands, and groups that have relied on the casino’s power to bring money to those areas are reluctant to give that up, as they’d be losing customers to large casino brands, many of which aren’t even based in the U.S.

In March 2020, Washington passed HB2638, which would allow sports betting to take place in casinos, which came as a surprise as this state has, historically, some of the strictest anti-sports gambling laws. In 2006, Washington made it a class C felony to gamble online, and although they don’t ever prosecute players, it is still a risk many citizens are unwilling to take. Many do break laws to gamble and place sports bets online, but most legit websites don’t accept players from states where digital gambling has been outlawed.

Washington’s sports betting facility in Capital One Arena is provided by William Hill, one of the biggest names in sports betting. Other states have tried similar outlets, but no other laws are quite the same as Washington’s. In New Jersey, some stadiums are equipped with “lounge areas” where sports betting enthusiasts can watch large screens with various odds and betting types, yet cannot place a sports bet from inside the arena, only from online.

As many more states move to legalize gambling in one form or another, it may take years before all states are on the same page. Each state's economy is so different, and with mounting pressure from indigenous groups and lands, many states are running into roadblocks during the process of legalizing online gambling.

Ceri Sinclair | I promote contact between clients, consumers, and companies in order to complete projects. I have over 10 years of experience in management consulting, team building, professional development, strategic execution, and business engagement in both the public and private sectors. I've worked on projects for TechPoint International, Cyberry, and Induster.

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