Think a horse-racetrack.
In Washington, D.C., the big William Hill sports wagering operation, owned by Caesars Entertainment, just opened full-time sport-wager operation inside the venue where the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals play -- the Capital One Arena.
And this is not just for gambling -- but includes all the comforts surrounding gambling.
The William Hill Sportsbook will include a restaurant and 100 large TV screens. The owners claim it’s the first in-arena sportsbook operating in the U.S -- one that will be open 365 days a year.
Even if you are not attending a live game at the arena, you can still go. And no, this isn’t just a little out of the way booth at an arena where one can make wagers. Think 17 different windows and 12 betting kiosks where fans and others can make all kind of wagers.
Legalized gambling while attending live sports events isn’t new. Mobile gaming/betting apps on phones have existed for some time in states where wagering is allowed. But if you are unsure, or just new to wagering, seeing a casino-like operation live at your favorite sporting arena -- where there are no starting gates, jockeys, or parading horses -- will signify a major change in professional sports.
All this adds to the growing sports wagering efforts around TV-related content and programming, carried on ESPN, Fox Sports and a host of other media.
The goal for these legacy TV networks is finding new, more engaged viewers in a media world where there is consistent linear TV viewer erosion.
Just look at the ESPNews channel. It runs seemingly nonstop betting odds data -- in graphics around its programming and advertising content -- provided by William Hill’s Caesars Sportsbook.
What will in-arena sportsbooks bring to the part of the sports consumer world that is unfamiliar with this type of gambling?
Finding a delicate thread around all this, at the bottom of a press release announcing the Capital One Arena deal, there is this message: “Must be 18 or older to gamble. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-522-4700 (call or text), or chat at ncpgambling.org/chat.”
So this can be dangerous -- like getting hit by an errant puck or a baseball line drive? Maybe I’ll just watch, but not play, from home. I’ll leave the gambling to the pros.