As Capital One Arena gets sportsbook, Nationals Park eyes legalized betting too

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05: Members of the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets line the baselines as they listen to the playing of the national anthem during the the home opener April 05, 2018 at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)(Getty Images/Win McNamee)
There might not be anyone who has been more at the forefront of the push for legalized sports betting in the District than Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis.

He’s long talked about his desire to see Capital One Arena host a sportsbook, open for action on games being played around the world.

But when the day finally arrives when you can legally throw $20 on the Redskins to lose again, the Washington Nationals are planning to have a sportsbook venue at Nationals Park, too.

The city is creating a special class of gambling licenses for the four current professional stadiums: Capital One Arena, the sports and entertainment venue in Southeast D.C., Audi Field, and Nationals Park.

But just because the Nationals haven’t engaged too much in the debate doesn’t mean they aren’t getting ready.

“We wanted it,” said Nationals owner Mark Lerner during an interview on opening day. “Monumental Sports kind of took the lead, and it’s silly for all of us to be trying to take the lead on it. They did a wonderful job.”

Lerner acknowledged that as the city works out the final details, he too is still far from certain what sports betting at the ballpark would ultimately look like. But it’s something the team is preparing for.

“Oh, a lot of thought,” laughed Lerner, asked if it was something he was thinking about. “And a lot of money with architects. We’ve come up with what I think is a very unique way to do it.”

Lerner isn’t ready to reveal too much more just yet.

While there might be some obvious locations at the stadium that could be renovated to accommodate wagering, Lerner did hint it could be elsewhere — “It won’t necessarily be in the park. We have to figure it all out yet. But we’ll announce it in the near future.”

“We’ve got our plans on how we’re going to do it, and it’s going to take a little bit of time, but we’re excited about the opportunity,” said Lerner. “I think it’s going to be a great thing for the city.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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