Caesars Expects To Replicate D.C. Success In More Non-Traditional Venues

October 29, 2021
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The successful development of a non-traditional sportsbook inside Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, D.C., has forever changed the relationship between sports leagues, franchises and bookmakers, according to an executive with operator Caesars Entertainment.

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The successful development of a non-traditional sportsbook inside Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, D.C. has forever changed the relationship between sports leagues, franchises and bookmakers, according to an executive with operator Caesars Entertainment.

Dan Shapiro, senior vice president and chief development officer with Caesars Digital, said what gamblers have access to in Washington, D.C. is a long way away from where the gaming industry was when wagering was legal only in Nevada.

Shapiro noted sports wagering outside casinos began in Nevada when customers were able to wager via kiosks in bars and taverns, until William Hill and the former Cantor Gaming were forced to remove some 100 kiosks state-wide after they were banned by the legislature in 2013.

Shapiro said William Hill still has kiosks in bars and taverns throughout Nevada, but customers can only make deposits to their accounts.

“Really the Nevada Resort Association … saw the expansion of sports betting in local bars and taverns as not good for the larger casinos,” Shapiro said Tuesday during a panel discussion on new gaming venues at East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City.

“It shows you where we were then and where we are now,” he said. “We went from the first in-arena sportsbook in D.C. to the acquisition [of William Hill] by Caesars Entertainment.”

Shapiro said that since the William Hill sportsbook opened last year, the facility has accepted 1.7m wagers totaling $166m in handle and $24m in gross revenue, with $2.4m paid to D.C. in gaming taxes. He noted the average wager in the district was $99.

The two-story, 18,o00-square-foot sportsbook also features a state-of-the-art broadcast studio that hosts Monumental Sports Network programming, as well as allowing Caesars’ media partners — ESPN and CBS Sports — a studio to host their own programming.

“We wanted to create something that wasn’t just transactional, [you] wanted to come and hang out not just for events at the arena but we get large crowds on Saturday and Sunday to watch football,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro said Caesars has had discussions about “flexing into the arena for big events” where people could sit in the bowl and watch the game on the jumbotron and make a bet with a teller nearby or on a mobile device.

“We’ve taken this concept a step further to other jurisdictions,” Shapiro said. “D.C. is a little bit of a unique jurisdiction [where] you have retail wagering and a little bit of mobile through the D.C. Lottery and two blocks surrounding the arena.”

As Caesars Sportsbook goes into Arizona and other jurisdictions, Shapiro said the company knows that mobile will be dominant, but they still need to cater to a retail customer.

“What we are building in Phoenix is somewhat similar [to D.C.] but also different,” he said.

Caesars is currently building out a permanent sportsbook at Chase Field, which is home to the Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Caesars is also planning to use brand ambassadors to get customers to sign up for the Caesars Sportsbook app, show them how it works, and how to deposit.

Currently, Caesars is operating a temporary sportsbook with betting windows and kiosks, but the permanent facility should open before Super Bowl.

Outside D.C. and Arizona, Caesars has also created the Caesars Sportsbook Lounge at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where odds are displayed on LED screens and help is available for fans to download the Caesars app and place bets.

Various states have stadiums now featuring mobile sportsbook lounges, while Illinois and Maryland also have laws that allow for retail sportsbooks at major sports stadiums and arenas.

Shapiro said the D.C. model where there are also Class B licenses for bars and taverns to offer sports betting is equally expected to be approved by more jurisdictions as wagering continues its expansion.

“This is the whole next level … for sports betting,” he said.

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