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Washington Nationals, BetMGM To Bring Sportsbook To The Ballpark

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • The Washington Nationals and BetMGM have announced a multi-year ‘exclusive partnership’.
  • The deal gives BetMGM the title of ‘Official Sports Betting Partner’ of the Washington Nationals.
  • In addition, BetMGM will power a sportsbook connected to Nationals Park along with a mobile platform.

I’ve done everything within my power to avoid talking about the utterly inept grease fire that is Washington DC sports betting. Although the District of Columbia has likely been supplanted by Tennessee for the dubious distinction of ‘flat out stupidest sports betting regulatory framework’ they’re still in the top three….er…bottom three. One interesting wrinkle that has come out of their otherwise nonsensical regulations is the ability for teams to open sportsbooks in their venues. William Hill has already opened a sportsbook at the Capital One Arena along with a mobile platform (more about that in a moment) and FanDuel has partnered with DC United of the MLS to open a sportsbook at the Audi Field soccer stadium.

The latest deal between a sportsbook and DC sports team was announced today as the Washington Nationals and BetMGM have entered into a partnership. Much of the relationship is the typical ‘Official Sports Betting Partner’ deal whereby the sportsbook gets in-stadium branding, social media plugs, etc. The deal between the Nats and BetMGM goes beyond that, however, and will eventually see a sportsbook opened at National Park.

Here’s what the press release says about the Nationals Park sportsbook:

The BetMGM Sportsbook will provide a luxury viewing and sports betting experience that complements the existing experience at the MGM National Harbor Dugout Club, an eight-seat premier luxury sports box located on the field adjacent to the team dugout. The newly created Sportsbook will be located in the space currently serving as Center Field Social, across Center Field Plaza from the Nationals Team Store. It will not be accessible by fans while they are in attendance at a Nationals game, but fans will be able to place bets via BetMGM’s mobile app.

So fans won’t be able to bet at the BetMGM retail outlet while they’re at the game (at least for now). They’ll be able to bet via the BetMGM mobile app and this is where the fun begins–and by fun I mean the completely inexplicable stupidity that is DC sports betting regulation. The majority of sports betting in DC is run by the DC Lottery and you know what that means. DC’s lottery is particularly bad offering outlandishly poor numbers to what is presumably a captive market.

But wait–there’s more. In addition to the lottery run online fiasco there’s a provision within DC regulations that allows the city’s pro sports teams to contract with a legitimate betting provider like William Hill, FanDuel or BetMGM. They can then offer retail sports betting at the stadium and online betting within a predesignated radius around the stadium. So let’s say you live in Georgetown or some other posh area of the District. If you want to place a sports bet from home you have to do it on the lottery website (or more likely one of the countless offshore sportsbook that offers a superior wagering experience). Alternately, you can get in your car, drive down to the Capital One Arena and once you’re close enough you can bet on the William Hill online platform.

I sure don’t blame the sportsbooks for wanting to get in the DC sports venues for branding purposes as much as anything else. The precedent of being one of the first sportsbooks to operate in or around a pro sports stadium is also worth the effort. That being said, the stupidity of having to go idle in front of an empty sports arena to place bets is downright mind boggling. It gives me a headache to even think about it.

Before we go, here are the press release quotes starting with Alan Gottlieb, Chief Operating Officer of Lerner Sports Group:

“The Nationals are thrilled to expand our strong partnership with MGM Resorts into the sports betting realm. As our Official Sports Betting Partner, BetMGM will further enhance the greatest in-venue fan experience in Washington, D.C. through its state-of-the-art entertainment products and services.  The BetMGM mobile app will enable our fans to engage with the game in new and exciting ways, while the BetMGM Sportsbook connected to Nationals Park will provide Nationals fans and the D.C. community with a first-class gathering place to celebrate their passion for sports together.”

Matt Prevost, Chief Revenue Officer, BetMGM had this to say:

“This new partnership with the Nationals is our most in-depth partnership with a team and showcases the multitude of ways we’re able to engage fans in and out of stadiums. We’re extremely excited to work together to create unique experiences for Nationals fans and the broader D.C. metro area during and after games.”

Finally, we hear from Jorge Perez, President & COO, MGM National Harbor who is pleased with the brand extension prospects. The MGM National Harbor is the closest casino to DC but technically in Maryland–this means that you can’t bet on sports there either (at least for now) but you can play the ponies at the racebook:

“I can’t think of a better extension to MGM National Harbor’s long-standing partnership with the Washington Nationals. Fans will have the opportunity to experience America’s pastime in the most innovative and exciting way possible. We are thrilled to continue bringing world-class entertainment to the DMV.”

Since betting while idling in your car looks to be a significant component of the DC sports betting experience here’s some good news–before long, you’ll be able to go over the border into Virginia and wager at their sportsbooks. You’ll at least have the freedom to park and bet wherever you want and not just outside the local arena.

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