A few days ago, it was announced that the Nationals would be opening an all-new sportsbook at the park, just outside the center field gate. They become the second MLB team that will be opening a sportsbook, as the Cubs and DraftKings announced a few months ago that they will be opening a sportsbook of their own near Wrigley Field.
The Nats partnership is with BetMGM, who are based out of Virginia. While the sportsbook will only be accessible outside the ballpark, sports betting will still be available to fans inside via the BetMGM app.
Immediately, I know what some of you may be thinking. “Gambling?? How horrible, sick, and twisted of the Nats! What a horrible influence!! What are they gonna do next, offer me and my kid WEED?!” Let me just preface by saying I recognize gambling addiction is a real thing that people have to deal with. If you are struggling with the inability to stop gambling, you should contact the National Gambling Addiction Hotline at (1-800-522-4700).
But here’s the thing, this sportsbook will bring the Nats business. Billionaires only care about your business, and this sportsbook is going to bring the Lerners some bread. Sports betting has been highly popular in the DMV area since its legalization in both Maryland and Virginia. However, it is not currently legal in Washington D.C., so the idea here is that you are primarily attracting clientele that resides in legal sports betting states. They will have mediums to do it at a park in a non-legal jurisdiction, and as a result the money flows in. As sad as it might be, some of the clientele that the Nats might be gaining from this could be people that are strictly there to gamble.
This isn’t the first time a sportsbook has opened up in D.C., either. Lat year, Capital One Arena received one from William Hill, and it has proven to be successful following up with the implementation of the BetMGM book at Nats Park and a FanDuel book that will open later this year at Audi Field. As against gambling some of you may be, you cannot deny there is a legitimate market for it, especially in the DMV.
As far as people that are just so deeply bothered about the sportsbook, think it is not appropriate at a family venue, or just think it’s a “bad influence,” couple things here. First off, absolutely no one at Nats Park is forcing you to bet. Not only do you have to be 21 and over to do it, but there also still exists the option of you coming to the game just for the game. Again, the venue is located outside the park, so you will not have to even see it while inside.
And as far as people that think a sportsbook being connected to a major league stadium is a bad influence, I mean is it really? Alcohol is a bad influence, but people still drink alcohol at the park, right? At basically any professional sporting event you go to, more than half the adults at the venue will more than likely have some kind of alcoholic beverage while they are there, some with their children in attendance with them. I mentioned earlier that business might be drawn to Nats Park strictly for betting, but there is also business that is drawn to the park every game in people that couldn’t care less about baseball, but rather want to go out for a night with friends to have a drink or a few. Like the ability to responsibly drink, you can responsibly gamble.
Now I’m not saying drag your kid to the sportsbook with you and teach them all about how it works. But seriously, how is throwing a $5 bet down on the Nationals to win any different than having a beer in your hand with your kid at the game? What exactly is the reason you would be bothered by me being of age and placing a legal bet at the sportsbook or on the app? Again, no one is going to be forcing you to bet yourself, and it won’t be a problem to the public eye with a location outside the stadium and on an individual app on other people’s phones.
This implementation is honestly one of the best additions Nats Park has had in a while. While I’m aware there are mixed feelings on gambling, and if you are seriously addicted you should absolutely consider receiving help, but this is a prime money maker right here. It also opens up the door for possible stadium naming rights to go to BetMGM, which would bring in even more cash. Sportsbooks are about the most harmless form of gambling you can get, and for those against it, would your stance stay the same if it helps pay for a Juan Soto extension?
Personally, I am super excited about this addition, and I look forward to betting against the Nats when I visit the park. It will certainly be interesting to see how ownership proceeds from here.