On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced a $100 million renovation to Dodger Stadium that will overhaul a significant portion of the legendary ballpark ahead of the 2020 regular season. The focus of the renovation centers around a brand-new plaza in center field, though the team also announced that new bridges and elevators will be added that will connect the park’s outfield pavilion with the rest of the stadium.
The announcement detailed the Dodgers’ plans to add new food and drink establishments to the ballpark, as well as a “Legends of Dodger Baseball” plaza that will feature statues of team legends Jackie Robinson and Sandy Koufax.
Also tucked into the announcement were potential plans to add a sports betting aspect to the ballpark. Sports betting is not currently legal in the state of California, but many expect the state to legalize and regulate the activity sometime next year. If (or when) that happens, Dodger Stadium will be “ready to serve bettors with live odds and 5G technology,” per this tweet from Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times:
Markazi says that the stadium’s various sports bars will have betting odds displayed, and bettors will have the ability to place live bets via technology provided inside Dodger Stadium.
While Dodger Stadium may become the first major sports venue in California to offer sports betting options, it will not be the first of its kind in the United States. Since the United States Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May of 2018, states have been given the greenlight to legalize sports betting. New Jersey was at the forefront of this movement, and a number of states have followed suit.
The New York Senate passed a bill that allows stadiums to take sports bets. The law says that any “professional sports stadium or arena” with a capacity of a minimum of 15,000 seats can legally accept sports bets at designated kiosks.
In January of this year, Washington DC passed a bill granting “Class A” licenses to Capital One Arena, Nationals Park, Audi Field, and St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena that will allow for construction of sportsbooks within the buildings. Ted Leonsis, the owner of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and NBA’s Washington Wizards, recently purchased a sports bar adjacent to Capital One Arena with plans of transforming it into the country’s first sportsbook inside a professional stadium.
In October of last year, the NHL’s New Jersey Devils announced plans to build a lounge area inside their stadium, the Prudential Center, that will serve as a sportsbook. The room, which will be sponsored by bookmaker William Hill, will have more than 20 television screens with odds boards displaying a number of betting options across all sports. These will be accessible to fans inside the arena.
That same concept is the one set to be adopted by the Dodgers once their renovations are completed and once sports betting becomes legal within California’s state borders. Fans will be able to bet on a number of different sports at various locations around Dodger Stadium. Sports betting is currently legal in 10 states across the US, and it may not be long before it’s legal in California.
In June, two state legislators introduced a bill calling for a vote on legalizing sports betting in 2020. There is currently no telling when that bill may pass, especially considering there is massive opposition from a number of Native American tribal casino operators within the state.
Optimists believe that sports betting may be accessible from Dodger Stadium starting in the 2021 season at the earliest. Stan Kasten, the Dodgers’ CEO, said that the plan is to open the new sports bars inside the stadium, without sports betting, in time for the 2020 season. Kasten said, “Right now, not only is it not legal in California, it’s also not legal in baseball rules, to have a betting venue at a stadium.”
The renderings that display betting odds boards seem to indicate that the Dodger brass believes sports betting will be allowed in California and in Major League stadiums before long, though Kasten was publicly coy on the subject. He added, “It’s a rendering for the possibilities and the capabilities. Right now, it is for sure, for the foreseeable future, going to be sports bar areas. And there is an awful lot of business for sports bars. Trust me, we can’t have enough sports bars.”
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