Burgers to Bets: Clues That Monumental Bought Out Greene Turtle’s Lease for D.C. Sportsbook
Sports betting regulations are under way in Washington, D.C., and all signs point to a sportsbook setting up shop on F and 6th Street, on the corner where Capital One Arena is located, home to the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards.
Right now, The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille occupies the space attached to the arena in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood. But just weeks after the D.C. Council passed a measure legalizing sports betting online (by a single vendor) and at certain professional arenas in the District, it was announced that Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), which owns the Capitals and Wizards, would buy the sports bar out of its lease.
The clues for a sports bar-turning-sportsbook
As first reported by the Washington Business Journal, the restaurant still had three years left on its lease, begging the question, why is MSE so eager to take back its space?
Monumental has yet to release a statement detailing its plans for the space, but it didn’t take long for people to speculate. MSE did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Within minutes of sitting down at the location, I heard a server tell the mail carrier they were closing down because of “something to do with sports betting.”
The Greene Turtle will open during Capitals playoff games but with a limited menu, and the restaurant will not be ordering liquor anymore, a bartender said.
Renovations in store, Leonsis leads charge
The space itself has to expand if it’s going to be the world-class restaurant and sportsbook Monumental Sports CEO and Wizards/Caps owner, Ted Leonsis, has referenced.
“My expectation is that there will be built a very, very high-end world-class restaurant called the Sports Book,” Leonsis told NBC Washington in January. “There will be televisions showing games from all over the world and that people will be able to come in and watch games and dine and bet.”
The “Sports Book” is expected to be part of the privately funded $15 million upgrade to Capital One Arena that MSE announced earlier this year. MSE completed $40 million of renovations on the arena just last summer.
There are options available as the space currently sits next to one of Capital One’s box office entrances, and there appears to be office space on the floor above the restaurant. An entrance inside The Greene Turtle leads directly to Capital One Arena, allowing patrons and ticket holders to access games and events without exiting to F Street.
Leonsis has been one of the more forward thinking owners in professional sports, at least in terms of sports betting and eSports.
In an end-of-year email to MSE employees, Leonsis wrote, “I am very proud of the work we have been doing to bring sports gaming and gambling out of the shadows into the sunlight. We were diligent on the PASPA rulings and have been deeply involved with our city on the recent DC Council legislation allowing sports gambling in Washington, DC.”
Additionally, Leonsis has invested in companies such as Sportradar, DraftKings and WinView.
Last week, Draftkings held their 2019 Fantasy Hockey World Championship down the street from Capital One Arena at Hotel Kimpton Monaco. Participants of the three-day live final attended the Capitals game Friday night.
Leonsis has even touted Monumental’s hand in promoting sports betting legislation to the District. The legislation was not passed without controversy, though.
Bill stirs controversy
The bill was fast-tracked by the D.C. Council, granting Intralot, D.C.’s lottery vendor, the city’s sole sports betting contract. Not so coincidentally, Intralot made significant donations to Council campaigns as Council Member David Grosso pointed out prior to the 8-4 vote.
Moreover, D.C. Council Member Jack Evans, the lawmaker who argued that circumventing the bidding process and awarding Intralot the contract was a matter of emergency, is now in hot water for pitching influence to legal and lobbying firms, per a Washington Post report.
Controversy is likely to continue surrounding the D.C. sports betting scene, but regardless of how we got here, here we are. Residents and tourists will be able place bets in the nation’s capital sometime in 2019, and with Leonsis and Monumental looking to capitalize, expect one of those places to be at the corner of F and 6th before the end of the year.
We’ll set the odds at -900, or a 90 percent implied probability.