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.
DSLBD Director @WhitfieldKristi got a look inside the District’s first Class B sports wagering operation at @grandcentraldc, calling it landmark moment achievement for the District and Grand Central. pic.twitter.com/2MJbBu1rVx— DSLBD #DCisOPEN (@SmallBizDC) October 4, 2021
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.
Grand Central Sportsbook is now OPEN! Offering kiosk and ticket window wagering from 10am-1am 7 days a week! Plus, we are proud to offer the revolutionary “Build-a-Bet” option to reserve your wager and save time! https://t.co/raGkd1ATdu pic.twitter.com/Rq17Wxf4dr— Grand Central (@grandcentraldc) October 5, 2021
“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.