NEW YORK – For any sports fan, casual or otherwise, who might be wondering why the seemingly logical marriage of sports betting and in-stadium wagering hasn’t yet occurred, gaming attorney Daniel Wallach has two words:
“You’ll likely be able to place a bet at the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C., at a kiosk or at a window within the sportsbook, probably within the next few months,” Wallach said.
He didn’t stop there, saying that he thinks the rollout of in-stadium wagering will start to take hold nationally as more states – especially ones that already have what he termed a “major footprint” in sports wagering – start entering the conversation.
And he thinks New York is next up.
“There was a bill that almost went to a vote in the (New York State) Assembly that included an entitlement” for sports betting kiosks in stadiums and arenas in the state, he said. “Imagine Madison Square Garden being, in 2021, not only the world’s most famous arena, but potentially the world’s most famous sportsbook.”
In addition to hosting some 200 events a year, Madison Square Garden, “sits on the Western Hemisphere’s largest commuter rail station,” Wallach added.
“Your potential audience goes well beyond the number of attendees to live sporting events,” he said.
Wallach spoke at the Sports Betting Conference USA in New York on Tuesday as part of a panel featuring several experts on gaming law that dealt with monetizing the game day experience and explored the prospect of in-stadium betting.
Madison Square Garden’s top legal officer, however, urged caution.
Jamaal Lesane, MSG’s senior vice president of legal and business affairs, told the near-capacity audience that New York currently only offers sports betting in four commercial casinos and a few tribal casinos, none of which are anywhere near New York City.
But, he said, “we are going to do this (introduce sports betting to MSG) in a very smart, thoughtful way. Hopefully, it’s not too far away.”
Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the conglomerate founded by Ted Leonsis that owns Capitol One Arena, along with the NHL’s Washington Capitals, the NBA’s Washington Wizards, and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, is already planning ahead. The District of Columbia classified arenas within the city as licensed sportsbook operators.
“What we’re able to do is partner with an operator to put together a fully operational bricks-and-mortar sportsbook,” said Jim Van Stone, Monumental’s president of business operations. “We’ll have kiosks on the concourse, our betting operator will have a two-block radius around the arena (for mobile). Capital One Arena is dark 100 days a year. We’re looking at this as an opportunity to open the building up.”
Van Stone said it was possible to open the arena for simulcasting mixed martial arts events or the Super Bowl, calling it a “game-changing opportunity.” He said such events could lead to another 1 million visits a year to the arena complex.
“There are 190 embassies in the D.C. area,” he said. “Why not broadcast the Indian Cricket League on dark nights?”
Jake Williams, SportRadar’s vice president of legal and regulatory affairs, described scenario where New York Jets fans, tailgating at the Meadowlands before a game, placed pregame bets on their phones. He said he was unsure about possible overlap between in-stadium and mobile betting options, especially after bettors get used to betting on their phones.
Using the example of Belmont Park, MSG’s Lesane said he thought that wouldn’t be an issue.
“You go to the Belmont Stakes, and there are long lines at the kiosks. It’s almost two different products,” he said.
Wallach illustrated the changes that have occurred in the field in the past two years, saying as part of a comment about partnerships between arenas and betting providers that now teams are becoming part of lobbying efforts.
“I know California, in a few weeks, will hold public hearings, and the Sacramento Kings and the (Los Angeles) Dodgers are activated in this conversation,” he said. “Same thing with the Dolphins in Miami. They have a coordinated lobbying campaign to help bring sports gambling to their venues.”
Those efforts will help educate lawmakers and influence the shape the laws take, he said.
Justin Martin is the associate editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org