Speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” William Hill US CEO Joe Asher and Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis talk about the upcoming in-arena sportsbook at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.
In-Arena Betting on Its Way
William Hill US CEO Joe Asher and Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis joined CNBC’s “Squawk Box” segment to discuss their new partnership that will see the creation of a sportsbook within the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.
Commenting on the tie-up and future expectations, Asher said that the development would be the first sportsbook inside of a sports arena in the United States. Leonsis pitched in sharing his excitement about the use of interactive data at the sportsbook to make for a more “exciting experience.”
Leonsis confirmed that his company will work very closely with William Hill to create a best-in-class and up-to-date sportsbook. More importantly, he noted, Monumental and William Hill want to set a clear path for the future where gamification and big data improves the experience.
Taking a question from the host the executives commented on the state of gambling and sports betting regulation in Washington. Asher explained that D.C. lawmakers have passed legislation that makes it legal to run sports betting activities in a number of locations and most prominently within an arena.
Mobile Betting Clearly the Future
Sports punters will be able to bet anywhere within the area, Asher added, whether over-the-counter or on a mobile phone. No date has been set for the launch of the Monumental and William Hill sportsbook, Asher explained, but the companies were working through the licensing process with the D.C. Lottery.
The host went to ask if consumers can expect betting everywhere in five years’ time, including arenas. Asher elaborated that sports betting is rolling on a state-by-state basis and that some states tend to move a little quicker than others.
While the legalization push isn’t going as quickly as hoped for everywhere, Asher said that the bulk of all sports betting will be done remotely and via mobile devices. Retail, though, will still continue to play a crucial role because of the added social experience and element.
Sports betting, said Leonsis is not just about betting. Moving forward, the industry is expected to make media rights more valuable. Fantasy gaming has highlighted that the more active a fan is the more they understand and delve into big data to use to their benefit, and the more they would watch and interact with games on their mobile devices or television.
Does William Hill Fear Backlash?
CNBC’s journalist then went on to ask if the executives feared a backlash from the public because of the increased danger of problem gambling. The journalist cited the United Kingdom as an example where the industry has been regulated for a long period now, but it was beginning to face new challenges.
Asher responded by arguing that it was always on the company’s mind to ensure that its customers play responsibly and remain safe. He also explained that while there was a backlash in the United Kingdom, that trend wasn’t specific to sports, but it has more to do with gambling overall.
The host interjected asking if there was a lesson to be learned from “across the pond.” Asher explained that the big takeaway was to be careful and focus on the customer – whether this goes through monitoring very carefully what consumers are doing or keep an eye out for folks who are having a problem.
Leonsis then took the discussion in a slightly different direction, adding that the company was looking to create a product fit for new generations of consumers and grow the market, sort of similar to what BetMGM are trying to do.
He said that ultimately this new sportsbook is an opportunity to create an interactive experience that will benefit businesses as well as sports bettors.