First Class B license for small business

Grand Central becomes first D.C. restaurant to open a sportsbook

Grand Central DC Sportsbook opened Monday in Washington, D.C.
Reading time 2:29 min
The newly launched sportsbook began taking sports bets on Monday through kiosks and a window, while an app is set to be up and running next year. While other venues are affiliate with the D.C. Lottery's sports betting program, setup at Grand Central is in-house and in partnership with Elys Game Technology. The launch introduces a new model for small, independent businesses to offer sports betting.

Grand Central, a longtime sports bar on 18th Street in Northwest, has received the first D.C. Class B sports betting license, becoming the first sports bar in the country to now call itself a sportsbook.

The newly launched Grand Central DC Sportsbook began taking sports bets on Monday through a pair of betting kiosks and a staffed teller window inside the property. An associated mobile app won’t be up and running until next year, reports WTOP News.

To prepare for the launch, Grand Central has tripled the number of TVs, from 7 to 21, and offers guests sporting events in several major leagues. Moreover, 20 employees have been hired for the expansion, and the sportsbook now opens 24/7, from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

However, Grand Central isn’t like other sportsbooks. While other venues are affiliated with the D.C. Lottery’s sports betting program, the setup at Grand Central is entirely in-house. Grand Central partnered with Elys Game Technology, a provider which is also set to supply the upcoming geo-fenced mobile app that will allow guests to place online wagers.

“Ours is completely independent, owned and operated by Grand Central and Elys Game Technology,” said Grand Central owner Brian Vasile, according to the previously cited news source. “Everything’s done in-house here. It’s one-stop shopping and it’s independently owned.”

In order to launch legal sports wagering, the sportsbook had to secure a Class B license, which enables bars and restaurants around the city to do so. This was no easy task.

“It took a lot of people a lot of work, a lot of people hours, compliance issues, document acquisition, financial acquisition, time and patience,” explained Vasile. “It was a big lift for everybody.”

The license application alone was $100,000 and took some nine months to process. Other one-time costs also included renovations, infrastructure and security upgrades. Despite this, Grand Central expects this investment to pay off, by boosting food and beverage sales by about 10%, plus the revenue stream of sports wagering throughout the extended opening hours.

But the Grand Central DC Sportsbook opening also marks the beginning of a new era of sportsbooks, as it introduces a new business model which could prove to be potentially profitable: small, independent businesses can also jump on the betting bandwagon.

“D.C. is breaking the ground,” said Matteo Monteverdi, head of special projects for Elys Gaming. “It’s fascinating to see how many states are starting to look at this model as well.”

Grand Central became one of the first three businesses in D.C. to hold a sportsbook license, but the only one operating with a Class B one. The other two are William Hill, which opened a sportsbook at Capital One Arena last June; while BetMGM has started taking online bets at Nationals Park, with a retail sportsbook expected to open later this year.

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