- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2020

D.C. United announced a strategic partnership with the casino company Caesars Entertainment that could pave the way for a sportsbook to be opened at Audi Field.

As part of the agreement, not only will D.C. United’s uniforms bear the Caesars logo on the right sleeve starting in 2020, but Caesars is also looking into opening bars or entertainment venues around Audi Field and the neighborhood of Buzzard Point in Southeast Washington.

“In an effort to support the dream of turning Audi Field into a year-round hub of entertainment in the Buzzard Point community of Washington D.C., multiple entertainment and bar/restaurant concepts are being considered, including Caesars Entertainment hosting events in the stadium itself,” a press release said.

Sports betting was not mentioned explicitly in the team’s press release, but D.C. United is likely positioning itself for the new frontier of sports gambling in the District. D.C. Council voted to legalize sports gambling in December 2018, and the D.C. Lottery is scheduled to launch its sports betting app in March.

Last November, reports said D.C. United and Caesars were “deep in negotiations” about opening a sportsbook at the relatively new soccer stadium as early as the spring, in time for the majority of the 2020 Major League Soccer season. The team first would need to apply for a license to operate a sportsbook from the city.

D.C. United isn’t the only local team moving in this direction. Monumental Sports and Entertainment partnered with William Hill U.S. on a planned sportsbook in Capital One Arena, home of the Wizards and Capitals. And Redskins owner Dan Snyder reportedly has told Maryland and Virginia lawmakers he wants the Redskins’ next stadium to be given a gaming license — although sports betting is not yet legal in either state.

Caesars operates sportsbooks in about 30 locations around the country, several in Las Vegas but also in places that more recently approved legal sports betting, like New Jersey.

The partnership also includes the standard fare, like promotional giveaways at games, LED signage at Audi Field and suites.

“Partnering with Caesars provides us with a great opportunity to realize the dream of Audi Field being a year-round hub of entertainment and activity and is another strong indication that global brands continue to see value in partnering with our organization,” D.C. United co-chairman Jason Levien said in a statement. “We are truly thankful that Caesars has decided to partner with D.C. United on this landmark deal in the Washington, D.C.”

Audi Field opened in July 2018. In addition to serving as D.C. United’s home turf, the 20,000-seat stadium also hosts the XFL’s DC Defenders and several games for the NWSL’s Washington Spirit.

United opens its season Feb. 29 at home against the Colorado Rapids, although it is not likely the sportsbook would be up and running by then.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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