Breaking ground in the MLS
Major League Soccer has taken a major step in sports betting with the opening of the FanDuel sportsbook at Audi Field, home of D.C. United.
three wagering stations, 47 HD televisions, two large video walls, 18 self-service kiosks”
“Located just inside Gate A, the FanDuel Sportsbook stretches over 2,700 square feet and features three wagering stations, 47 HD televisions, two large video walls, 18 self-service kiosks and an uninterrupted view to the field for fans to enjoy D.C. United matches and other sporting events,” read a release from the team.
The new facility, opened Friday, is the first of its kind in an MLS facility, bringing it level with the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL, all of which are quickly integrating into the betting market.
D.C. United leads the charge
This is not the first time that a Washington, D.C. sports team has been on the cutting edge of sports betting; the Washington Nationals became the first Major League Baseball team to launch an in-stadium sportsbook earlier in 2022. FanDuel previously partnered with the Footprint Center, home of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, and plans to join forces with the United Center, which houses the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
D.C. sports betting first made headway in 2018 after the city council legalized online wagering and became the first to grant in-stadium sportsbooks. Caesars (William Hill at the time) broke the ice at Capital One Arena in 2020, while BetMGM landed in Nationals Park in January. FanDuel’s union with the capital’s soccer team completes the sweep of professional stadiums in the area.
FanDuel will not permit mobile betting at Audi Field
Despite the precedent, however, FanDuel will not permit mobile betting at Audi Field, restricting all wagers to their facility. The exclusivity is unlike the parameters at nearby Capital One Arena and Nationals Park, and there is “no timetable” for mobile betting.
Mobile betting in the district is run by GambetDC, a sports betting platform powered by the D.C. lottery. Other major operators pay a 20% tax on revenue, cut to 10% if bets are placed within two blocks of in-person locations. Because Audi Field is just across the street from the Nationals Park, bettors could hypothetically access the BetMGM sportsbook while being in a FanDuel-sponsored stadium.
Sports betting has been a resounding hit in the United States ever since a 2018 Supreme Court decision allowed for the creation of the market.
The MLS, now partnered with BetMGM, was initially hesitant to pounce on the opportunities associated with sports betting in the United States. However, the rapidly-growing market could pave the way for a rise in the sport’s popularity, which is a major concern for many league executives.
According to a June 30 report from Forbes, the MLS targeted urban populations with fewer sports teams to avoid competition from more dominant leagues. This strategy achieved its primary objective but “it coincidentally leads to less markets with legal betting.”
The stage is only just being set in America, with models such as those in countries with popular soccer leagues, a la England and the English Premier League, showing what gameday betting can look like in its fullest form. D.C. United’s coalition with FanDuel could be the first in a row of dominoes to fall, depending on its success.