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How a sportsbook makes Capital One Arena a '365-day destination'

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Jim Van Stone, Monumental Sports and Entertainment President of Business Operations and Chief Commercial Officer joins Yahoo Finance to break down the futre of sportsbooks inside arenas.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: The world of sports is about to get more engaging for people who not only love sports, but also like to engage in gaming or gambling and betting on the teams and the players that they love. There's new ways to do that. And to discuss all of this, we bring into the stream Jim Van Stone, Monumental Sports and Entertainment President, Business Operations, and Chief Commercial Officer, along with Josh Schafer, our correspondent and producer here who likes to talk a lot about sports. Let's talk the big picture here. I no longer have to go somewhere else, if I live in Washington DC, if I want to engage, game, bet on the game. Tell us about the deal that you've got going with Caesars Sportsbook.

JIM VAN STONE: Sure, more than happy to. And thank you, Adam. It's an exciting day for us in the nation's capital. We are opening the building for full capacity for our Capitals game this evening against the New York Rangers, which has been the first time since March of 2020. So having a full crowd in the house tonight is going to be fantastic. But we want people to get here early. And, you know, we were the first US sports arena to open a bricks and mortar retail Sportsbook.

We did it through a great partnership that we had with the Caesars Entertainment Group. And we've got the Caesars Sportsbook, which is located at the corner of 6th and F Street, connected to Capital One Arena. So it's a beautiful immersive 20,000-square-foot bricks and mortar Sportsbook. And, you know, it's filled with these incredible TVs and televisions, from an audio visual standpoint, a great dining experience, along with 20 betting windows and about a dozen or so kiosks. So it's just a great destination spot for sports fans in the Washington DC area.

JOSH SCHAFER: And, Jim, I'm curious kind of how you thought we-- how you think we've got here with sports gambling. I mean, you go back a decade ago, and it was taboo for an announcer to even mention a point spread, right? We didn't see those in broadcast, and we didn't see it kind of anywhere to do with the official sport itself. How has that kind of shifted over the past 10 years? And is there a point where you think maybe it's too much? Are we getting sports gambling too much involved with the sport itself?

JIM VAN STONE: Yeah, you know, I think that's a great question. I think we were very active from a Monumental standpoint with really positioning and communicating from an industry standpoint. And with the overturn of PASPA in May of 2018 really changed the landscape. And I think, you know, the thing for us, we went into this process doing a ton of research. And, you know, we found that our fans were very engaged when it came to the sports betting opportunity.

You know, I do think it is a responsibility, and we get a lot of support both from the NBA and NHL. But, you know, making sure that we have PSAs on responsible gaming, you know, is really, really important to us. And we partner with Caesars, from a responsible gaming standpoint, with PSA messaging, but we also have a great alignment and partnership with the American Gaming Association. It's located a couple of blocks away from us at Capital One Arena.

So, you know, we think it's something the fans were looking for. We think it's a high fan engagement opportunity. But we also want to balance when it comes to, you know, the responsible gaming side. And I think when you see our games and experience it, both coming to the facility itself and really through the end game, you're going to see a lot of PSA messaging to really complement, you know, some of the advertising messaging when it comes to sports betting.

SEANA SMITH: Jim, this is certainly a way to get fans more involved. So you have the Sportsbook inside the arena, also your jersey deal. I'm curious just to get your take just on how lucrative something like this could potentially be or how valuable deals like this are to your franchise going forward.

JIM VAN STONE: Yeah, you know, that's a great question, Seana. I would give a lot of credit to the NHL and Commissioner Bettman, you know, many of the executives up there. We do think from a financial standpoint, jersey entitlements are a really big revenue opportunity, I think, in our industry. You know, with us in having the bricks and mortar Sportsbook here, we thought the home jersey piece for the Washington Capitals was a perfect alignment.

You know, our fans are going to be coming here. We're hopeful that they come two or three hours before a Caps game, you know, take in the festivities of the Sportsbook. And then after the game, you know, stay for a couple of hours and enjoy the end of the evening with a nice nightcap and maybe a West Coast hockey game, from that standpoint. So, you know, for us and the jersey, it was really about the fan engagement opportunity, and aligning with Caesars on it felt like a really natural fit for us organizationally.

JOSH SCHAFER: Jim, with the brick and mortar Sportsbook, have you guys seen interest in days that there isn't a game? Has it kind of become a new source of revenue for the arena? Because, correct me if I'm wrong, I think it's open seven days a week, right? People can go there when there's not a game at the arena?

JIM VAN STONE: So, you know what, it's great. We do about 230 events a year, about 3 million people through the turnstiles at Capital One Arena. We think this is a 365-day destination spot. We're a couple of blocks away from the Mall. And, you know, really, if you're a sports fan, there's probably not a better sports bar in the greater Washington region.

So it's funny, on the weekends, you know, we've almost become a football facility. I mean, it starts with global soccer in the morning and the Premier League, and then it goes into college football on Saturdays, you know, and the NFL on Sundays. So we really think it's really opened up a lot of new and unique opportunities, and really probably some sports fans that traditionally wouldn't come down for either a hockey or basketball game. So we think there's a really good compelling opportunity.

And one of the things that we're so bullish on from an industry about this is that if we could take advantage of maybe those 100-plus dark days a year where we do boxing or MMA pay-per-views inside our building and connected to the Sportsbook, we think it's certainly a new revenue opportunity, but a new fan engagement opportunity and help us, you know, really build our core business.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Personally, the revenue opportunity is parking around the arena. Those of us who are familiar with Washington know how awful that can be. But I've got to ask you, other teams, other-- you know, they're going to be looking at this as a potential revenue for them. Are you getting phone calls from them about what do we do in our part of the country to maybe create what you've now created?

JIM VAN STONE: You know what, I think we've been very fortunate on that, Adam. We've had probably teams in all four of the major big leagues, you know, come in on a weekly basis. We actually have our friends from Madison Square Garden coming down tonight, and we're going to show them around the facility. But yeah, I think it's going to become a really unique destination spot.

And, you know, for me, you know, as more states [INAUDIBLE], I hope my peers in the industry have really a unique opportunity of building out their own Sportsbook. And to do it with an operator-- because we don't touch any of the sports betting business. You know, that's handled by really the big operators. To partner with Caesars and the Caesars Sportsbook Group is really just a great opportunity for us. They are true experts in the business, and, you know, I think there's a really great alignment there.

SEANA SMITH: Well, Jim, over the next several weeks, next several months, there's another big issue that you're going to be facing. And that, of course, is the COVID-19 pandemic. We certainly have made strides just in terms of where we were last season. But there are a number of professional athletes who are still hesitant in getting the vaccine. I'm curious just from your perspective as a leader in the group, how are you navigating this uncertain and this very difficult time?

JIM VAN STONE: Yeah, you know, I think communication is absolutely key in this process, and, you know, we've got incredible team operations executives. We also align with MedStar Health, one of the biggest, you know, health organizations in the greater DC area. I think it's really constant communication from that standpoint. I mean, the safety and health of both our players and our fans coming into the building is paramount. So, you know, we have an obligation to really, you know, promote a lot of PSAs and encourage people to get vaccinated.

And, you know, I think we've come a long ways, you know, over the last 18 months, and we still have some ways to go. But, you know, I think constantly using our brands and the-- both our brands and our athletes to promote, you know, people's safety and health, you know, coming out of the COVID situation, I think, is critical. So we're going to continue to message that very, very aggressively. And I know every team in both the NBA and NHL have done that respectively in their own markets.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Jim Van Stone is President, Business Operations, and Chief Commercial Officer at Monumental Sports and Entertainment. Thank you for joining us. Josh Schafer, our producer and correspondent when it comes to sports issues on the [INAUDIBLE], we appreciate seeing you here.