Half an hour before a preseason 안전놀이터 hockey recreation ultimate fall, Ted Leonsis strolled down the concourse of Capital One Arena in Washington, stopping sometimes to pose for someone’s selfie. Leonsis owns both the Washington Capitals, the National Hockey League group, and the arena itself, a squat behemoth that fills a block of Chinatown now not a long way from Ford’s Theater. He additionally owns different groups that play there, such as the Washington Wizards, in the National Basketball Association, and a few smaller ones that don’t.
Leonsis is effortlessly the most popular sports proprietor inside the country’s capital, though the Wizards have managed just one department identify in his 8 seasons and his N.H.L. Group underachieved for years. It helps that the Capitals ultimately received the Stanley Cup remaining season, the town’s first championship in any most important expert league in extra than 1 / 4-century. But Leonsis is likewise uncommonly pleasant to lovers. During his commonplace lap around the area, he fielded questions from all of us who came as much as him. It became difficult to imagine many huge-league proprietors doing the identical.
A middle-aged African-American guy in a Capitals jersey approached Leonsis. “What about that gambling factor?” he requested. A few months before, the federal statute prohibiting sports playing was overturned by way of the Supreme Court; this became the first home game for the reason that a few states, newly liberated to set their very own playing agendas, had applied laws permitting sports bets. Leonsis has been vocal approximately his help for prison gambling, and he become full of ideas. One became a sports activities bar he planned to place in the arena that could take care of bets. It would match into a area presently occupied through a brewpub, or possibly displace a gym. He envisioned making a bet home windows, like those at a horse tune.
Sports playing wasn’t but felony within the District of Columbia, and till it changed into, there could be no having a bet windows. But Leonsis is assured that they will come. “Eventually,” he informed me, the bar “could be somewhere that lovers can congregate and watch video games and guess at the video games in something manner they need to” — whether on the windows or available-held gadgets. Leonsis might outsource the bookmaking, due to the fact owning a team while taking bets on its video games could be perceived as a warfare of hobby (and probable be unlawful). Instead, he would absolutely provide a website for consuming, drinking and extra playing. “Except that I want to outlaw the phrase ‘playing,’ ” he said. “Maybe call it ‘interactive wagering.’ When you listen ‘playing,’ you watched of Tony Soprano — ‘I’m with my bookie.’ People who bet on N.C.A.A. Swimming pools at their church, they don’t think they’re playing. They are.”
Leonsis, who held various executive positions at America Online from 1994 to 2007, says he doesn’t gamble — now not on sports activities or on something else. Yet he has risked both his recognition and his capital at the future of sports wagering. He owns a stake in DraftKings, a daily sports delusion corporation that has segued into online playing. He has invested in Sportradar, which delivers, at high pace, facts on video games in progress to bookmaking web sites, developing the type of advantage loved with the aid of Wall Street investors who, in his phrases, “get 1 / 4 of a 2nd more to mention ‘buy that stock.’ ” He owns a part of WinView, which holds severa patents for various aspects of in-game gambling. He hopes to fill the agenda of the NBC Sports Washington cable channel, of which he owns a third, with chatter approximately factor spreads and gambling possibilities. “Like CNBC,” he says.
Gambling on sports activities have become explicitly felony in Nevada in 1949. Until recently, the prospect of it spreading past that state’s borders become handled as probably ruinous with the aid of the franchise proprietors and commissioners who ruled over sports activities. They feared that it might modify the relationship between enthusiasts and their favored groups, and that gambling would reveal athletes to underworld characters looking to manipulate games. Eventually, the cautionary tale went, the competition in even the most important leagues might be indistinguishable from the manufactured plotlines of pro wrestling or antique-time curler derby. Gambling on sports become already occurring, of route — at Las Vegas casinos, on unlawful net websites, on the corner bar — but somehow that hadn’t made it more palatable. “Even five years ago,” says Steve Murray, a associate with Leonsis in the venture-capital company that has invested in a lot of those companies, “you’ll have had a tough time finding a single proprietor in any of these leagues announcing that playing changed into a terrific idea. You wouldn’t had been capable of do it.”
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Since then, attitudes appear to have changed all of sudden. It’s now difficult to locate anyone inside sports who opposes playing. In component that’s because the leagues and their traders have come to see how much they stand to advantage. But it’s additionally a result of insiders like Leonsis evangelizing to all of us who could pay attention: in proprietors’ conferences, in conversations with sponsors, even with U.S. Congressmen in the course of a 2017 playing conference on Capitol Hill. “He’s a visionary, and he speaks quite eloquently about what the destiny possibilities are,” says Gary Bettman, the N.H.L.’s commissioner, who till recently strongly antagonistic playing on sports. “He has been at the vanguard of pushing us to ensure we’re as knowledgeable as we can be. I get emails in this from him each day — greater than each day.”