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Fanatics will begin its much-anticipated US sports betting launch Friday with a retail book at the Washington Commanders’ FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

The in-person Fanatics Sportsbook adjacent to the official Commanders team store will open Friday, about two months after Maryland regulators gave the book final approval. The opening comes during the 2023 NFL playoffs, but after the Commanders had been eliminated from playoff contention.

Washington Commanders Team President Jason Wright will be on hand for the opening, according to a press release, along with officials from Fanatics Betting and Gaming. It will be the first retail sportsbook to open within the confines of an NFL stadium.

Due to NFL policies, the book can not accept in-person bets on the dates of Commanders home games, but bettors can still place wagers while in the facility with legal online books in Maryland through their mobile devices.

The Fanatics Sportsbook joins Caesars, BetMGM, FanDuel, TwinSpires, Barstool, BetRivers, PointsBet, Betfred and DraftKings among operators running Maryland retail sports betting venues that have either started taking bets or announced plans to do so. Maryland’s first online sportsbooks opened in November 2022, and by December 2022 made up more than 95% of the state’s overall betting handle.

Fanatics begins sports betting push

Fanatics’ retail sportsbook opening Friday kicks off what will be a more significant push into US sports betting in multiple states, one that industry observers believe could shake up the current American sports betting corporate hierarchy.

With an 80m-person database, Fanatics officials believe they can convert the company’s sporting goods and memorabilia customers into high-value bettors. The ability to cross-promote betting with the nation’s most extensive collection of sporting goods will also help attract customers from the established sportsbooks, as well as those who have never bet before, Fanatics officials have said ahead of the launch.

The Fanatics Sportsbook will use Amelco technology for its core sports betting platform but the company has so far not publicly displayed the actual interface. Amelco’s most notable current US client is the Hard Rock Sportsbook, which is noted for its minimalist interface, but it’s too early to tell the structure of the Fanatics platform.

Fanatics missed the initial mobile sports wagering launch date in Maryland but is expected to start taking mobile bets in the state later this year. Fanatics is set to launch mobile sports betting in Massachusetts, potentially its first live market, as early as this March. The company also has a mobile sports betting license in Ohio, which launched its first mobile platforms earlier this month.

These states are set to begin what could be a nationwide expansion in more than a dozen additional markets. Due to market size and accessibility, other leading states for the mobile Fanatics sportsbook include Colorado, Indiana and Iowa.

The four legal online casino gaming states with competitive markets – New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia – also seem like leading Fanatics targets. Sportsbook operators have significantly higher margins from online casino offerings such as slots and table games than they do their sports betting operations.

Another in-stadium sportsbook

Since the Supreme Court struck down the federal wagering ban in May 2018, more than 30 states have passed some sort of sports betting legalization bill. Maryland, as well as Ohio, Illinois, Arizona and neighboring Washington DC, allow in-stadium sportsbooks.

The Arizona Cardinals were the first NFL team to open on-property retail sportsbook, though it is not technically within the team’s State Farm Stadium. The NFL’s Cleveland Browns are also set to open a Bally Bet sportsbook near their stadium sometime this year.

In Ohio, the NHL’s Colombus Blue Jackets, MLS’ Colombus Crew and FC Cincinnati, NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, and MLB’s Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Guardians, all have partnerships with sportsbook operators and are set to open in-stadium sports betting venues. In Illinois, Wrigley Field, home of MLB’s Chicago Cubs, and the United Center, home of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and NBA’s Chicago Bulls, are also preparing retail sportsbooks.

The nation’s first retail sportsbook opened in Washington DC’s Capital One Arena in 2021.

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