More than 113,000 bets, totaling $12.2 million dollars, were placed in September at the temporary sportsbook at Capital One Arena in Washington, according to numbers released Thursday by bookmaker William Hill U.S.
In August, the box office at the arena was converted to a William Hill U.S. sportsbook, complete with betting windows and self-serve kiosks. It's the first retail sportsbook located in a major sports venue in the U.S., and it has been extremely popular.
Dozens of bettors have waited in line, sometimes 30 minutes or longer, to place their wagers. An average of nearly 3,800 bets per day were placed in September. At 1 p.m. on a Thursday that featured a Denver Broncos-New York Jets matchup, the line to bet stretched out the door and down the block.
"I was talking to a security guard there, and he said on Sundays, even though the sportsbook opens up at 8 a.m., people will start lining up around 6:45 to 7 a.m.," Michael Jester, a 27-year-old data science consultant, who lives 20 minutes from Capital One Arena, said.
Social-distancing protocols play a role in lengthening the lines, but the demand for sports betting is there. At a time when no games are being played at Capital One Arena, parking spots in the vicinity are coveted -- and there's more to come.
"The success of the William Hill pop-up sportsbook has exceeded our expectations, and we're excited to create the next phase of the sports fan experience with our permanent location inside the Capital One Arena," David Grolman, the president of retail operations for William Hill U.S., said in a release.
William Hill announced Thursday that, pending final regulatory approval, construction is ready to begin on a two-story sportsbook inside the arena that will feature a scaled-down replica of the giant video screen that hangs at center court in the arena and a broadcast studio. The permanent space is expected to have 12 betting windows, 10 self-service kiosks and 1,500 square feet of LED video that wraps around the facility. The aim is for the book to open early in 2021.
"We are thrilled to be the first U.S. sports complex to have opened a year-round sportsbook," Jim Van Stone, president of business operations and chief commercial officer for Monumental Sports, said in the release. "The William Hill Sports Book will be a one-of-a-kind, immersive experience not only for Wizards and Capitals fans attending events, but for all sports fans."
The D.C. Lottery's online sportsbook, for now, is William Hill's only bookmaking competition in town. The lottery has been criticized for its pricing and is being dwarfed by the betting action at the Capital One Arena sportsbook. The $12.2 million bet in September at the arena is nearly double the amount that has been wagered with the D.C. Lottery product over the past six months.