The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A sportsbook is coming to Nationals Park as part of Nationals’ new partnership with BetMGM

A sportsbook is coming to Nationals Park. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

The Washington Nationals on Monday announced BetMGM as their exclusive sports betting partner and plans to open a sportsbook at Nationals Park this season.

Financial terms of the multiyear agreement were not disclosed, but the deal will also include the launch of a sports betting mobile app that will be functional within a two-block radius of the stadium; BetMGM branding in the ballpark and on the team’s social media and digital platforms; and benefits for Nationals season-plan holders and members of MGM’s loyalty program.

Slugger Kyle Schwarber is headed to D.C. on a one-year deal with the Nats

The BetMGM sportsbook at Nationals Park is tentatively scheduled to open this summer, with betting windows, electronic betting kiosks, food and drink. Plans have yet to be finalized, but the sportsbook will be open year-round and occupy the former “Center Field Social” space at the corner of N Street and Half Street SE, located just outside the center field gate. It will not be accessible from inside the ballpark. The BetMGM app — which under D.C. law may only be used to place bets inside and within the immediate vicinity of the stadium — could launch by Opening Day.

The Nationals are one of the first Major League Baseball teams to announce an integrated deal with a sports-betting operator. In September, the Chicago Cubs announced a partnership with DraftKings to open a sportsbook near Wrigley Field.

“This partnership is going to bring new ways to engage with the game of baseball, and really sports in general, for all of our fans,” Jake Burns, the Nationals’ executive vice president of business operations, said in a phone interview. “We’re going to be extremely careful with how we roll this out. We have a lot of fans who aren’t of legal age, or simply just don’t want to bet, but our goal is to give every fan the option to have the best experience that they can at the ballpark.”

After D.C. legalized sports betting in 2018, the city contracted with Greek gaming company Intralot to oversee its sports betting operation. Intralot launched the District’s first and only citywide online betting platform and mobile app, GambetDC, in May.

In-person betting debuted in July, when British bookmaker William Hill opened a temporary sportsbook at Capital One Arena, one of four D.C. venues — along with Audi Field, Entertainment and Sports Arena and Nationals Park — eligible for a Class A license that restricts other operators from taking bets within a two-block radius. A permanent William Hill sportsbook will eventually open at Capital One Arena in the space formerly occupied by the Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille at the corner of Sixth and F streets NW. In October, D.C. United announced plans to open a sportsbook at Audi Field in partnership with FanDuel sometime this year.

From September: GambetDC sports betting app off to a slow start

The Nationals have had a marketing partnership with MGM since 2017, when the team unveiled the MGM National Harbor Dugout Club, a small section of luxury field-level seats. That relationship and MGM’s strong brand recognition in the industry, Burns said, made it an obvious choice to lead the sports-betting operation at Nationals Park. MGM Resorts International is MLB’s official gaming partner.

“It was important to find a partner with an established nationwide reach, given that D.C. is a heavily trafficked tourist market,” Burns said. “We wanted to make sure we were providing people that are coming to the city an option that they’re familiar with and already know and use.”

BetMGM’s app, which includes in-game and parlay bets and offers a wide range of sports to wager on, is available in eight states. Pending regulatory approval, the company could soon add Maryland and Virginia to that list; both states legalized sports betting last year and are in the process of getting their programs off the ground.

“It’s an incredibly important partnership for us, and we couldn’t be happier about it,” Matt Prevost, BetMGM’s chief marketing officer, said in a phone interview. “We look at this as the centerpiece of our marketing in the District and the whole DMV region, really. This is the first time we’ve opened a retail sportsbook inside of a stadium.”