Nationals, BetMGM announce deal to open sportsbook at ballpark

Whenever Washington Nationals fans return to the ballpark, they’ll be able to bet on their favorite ballclub before they cheer them on, with sports betting now legal in D.C.

And, on Monday, the team announced a new partnership with a big name sportsbook — a deal that will allow fans to put money down while they’re at or near Nationals Park.

BetMGM will set up in the space formerly known as Center Field Social, across Center Field Plaza from the Nats Team Store. It will be open year-round.

Fans won’t be able to access it from inside the ballpark, but they will be able to make bets via a yet-to-be-launched BetMGM mobile app. That app will only work “within the permitted area around the Park,” according to a joint statement put out by the team and the sportsbook.

And because it’s a sports stadium, there will be plenty of BetMGM branding to remind fans where they can lay down some coin when they feel lucky.

“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,” said Alan Gottlieb, the chief operating officer of Lerner Sports Group, which owns the Nats.

Nats Park will be the latest local sports venue to open a sportsbook since such gambling was legalized in 2018. Capital One Arena already has one, and Audi Field is set to open one this year as well.

Amid all the cheerful platitudes that accompany such high-dollar partnerships, there are some who are not happy about this deal.

Les Bernal, the national director for Stop Predatory Gambling, called on the Nats to “immediately stop” the partnership.

“The Nationals are creating an epidemic of child gambling,” Bernal said in a statement. “Bombarding all the kids who are Nationals fans with gambling ads and marketing normalizes and desensitizes them to the dangers of commercialized gambling and makes them more likely to develop problems later in life.”

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