Why I Think the Growth of Retail Sportsbooks at Stadiums Will Benefit the Fan Experience
By Benjamin Truman, COO and Co-Owner of MediaTroopers
With the striking down of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) and the legalization of sports betting across the US, the sports fan experience has transformed. Safe and secure sports betting has allowed people to wager on their favorite teams and provided new opportunities to bring communities closer to the action.
The major leagues backed the initial PASPA bill, but increasingly these organizations see the opportunities partnerships with sportsbooks offer. In recent sports betting launches in Ohio and Maryland, professional teams have been given sports betting licenses.
State authorities are beginning to realize the economic potential of these partnerships, as sports teams and sportsbooks can launch retail sportsbooks in stadiums. This brings fans a unique and exciting experience on game day, where they can go and place bets on their favorite teams while enjoying the company of other fans. I believe this will be one of the big areas of expansion for the betting market over the next few years.
In January 2022, Washington Nationals became the first side in Major League Baseball to open a dedicated sportsbook at a ballpark when it opened a BetMGM Sportsbook. This proved to be a trailblazer, as retail sportsbooks are now beginning to open at stadiums across the US.
The MLS’ FC Cincinnati opened a sportsbook two blocks from its newly built TQL Stadium, operated by SuperBook Sportsbook. The MLB’s Cincinnati Reds followed suit, opening a new BetMGM Sportsbook at its Great American Ball Park. The Chicago Bears are so enthusiastic about the impact of sports betting the organization demanded a sports betting facility be included in its new $5 billion stadium plans.
However, I think this is just the start of the expansion of retail sports betting to stadiums. Currently, only five jurisdictions allow sportsbooks to open on-site at stadiums: Ohio, Illinois, Arizona, Washington D.C., and Maryland. States with major sports teams, like New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, are currently not capitalizing on their passionate sports fans.
The benefits for sports organizations are immense, as retail sportsbooks help drive revenue and maximize profits on game day. For fans, it provides new chances to socialize, dine, and wager pre-game in top-quality facilities.
Sportsbooks are also being opened with stadium views so fans can watch games while placing bets on in-play action. Take D.C. United’s Audi Field, which opened a FanDuel Sportsbook with a view of the field. Along with the betting opportunities, the sportsbook also has a full bar and kitchen, bringing a new level of luxury to games.
However, it is not just sportsbooks within stadiums, as many locations in the surrounding area are embracing the social betting experience. For example, Taft’s Ale House is two blocks away from FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium. The MLS franchise is partnered with SuperBook Sportsbook, which operates a retail sportsbook at the Ale House. This offers supporters a range of locally brewed ales alongside a place to bet with their friends before going to the game.
The benefits of retail sportsbooks expand to fans that don’t have a ticket for a game. Many of these locations will allow people not attending games to enter and enjoy the facilities. Facilities are also open year-round, allowing fans to feel close to their favorite teams even when games aren’t on.
Many retail sportsbooks also offer fans unique experiences like Q&A sessions from sporting greats, private dining spaces, and VIP areas. Many of these facilities operate a live broadcast studio and complete food and beverage service, so fans can watch games even when their teams are playing on the road.
In some states, retail sportsbooks have outperformed mobile apps due to the ease of use for fans. The Caesars Sportsbook at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., had a betting handle of $5.7 million in August 2022 and was the highest handle generator in the District.
In short, operators intend for the retail sportsbook to be a fan hub throughout the season, not just for home games. Fans have responded positively to these retail sportsbooks, which is why I think sportsbooks will focus on improving these experiences in the future. For example, in October, the Caesars Sportsbook at Capital One Arena announced it completed an upgrade on the site, introducing an exclusive menu by Guy Fieri.
“For us, it really has become a great destination spot, and I think now, the restaurant concept with Guy is really going to take it to a new level,” Jim Van Stone, Monumental Sports & Entertainment (owner of Capital One Arena)’s President of Business Operations and Chief Commercial Officer said in an interview with SportsHandle.
The US sports industry is looking for new ways to keep growing, and I believe retail experiences will be a considerable factor. Sports betting is all about entertainment, and fans are responding very positively to these chances to connect to their teams through in-person betting. The more fans get involved, the higher revenues will be. If sportsbooks bring more revenues from stadium retail sportsbooks, I bet on seeing more and more amazing opportunities for fans heading to local stadiums.