Maryland advances Commanders in-stadium sportsbook license

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Maryland officials advanced the Washington Commanders’ retail sportsbook license Wednesday, continuing plans for what would be the state’s first in-stadium sportsbook.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission voted 6-1 to forward the application for an in-person sportsbook at the Commanders’ FedEx Field in Landover. The state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) must also approve the license, which could come as early as this month.

There’s still no timeline for when the potential FedEx Field book would open, though both team and state officials would clearly hope for an opening by this year’s football season. Commanders owner Dan Snyder did not address sportsbook specifics during a brief phone call to gaming regulators Wednesday.

Snyder has been investigated by the NFL for fostering what has been called a “toxic” work environment, an investigation that led to the departure of several high-profile team officials including the team’s lead radio announcer as well as its public relations manager. Sndyer’s wife, Tanya Snyder, was named co-owner and co-CEO in 2021 as part of an ensuing team management restructure.

The US House of Representatives House oversight committee is currently investigating Dan Snyder over the workplace acquisitions.

Gaming commission officials said Wednesday they had found nothing to prohibit the team from receiving a sports betting license following its own interviews and investigations. Dan Snyder was the sole person named in the application.

The Commanders have not publicly announced a sportsbook partner for the proposed FedEx Field facility. The team is partnered with FanDuel for a statewide mobile license in Virginia.

Assuming approval, the Commanders would follow the Arizona Cardinals as the second NFL team with an in-stadium retail sportsbook.

The nation’s first in-stadium sportsbook opened in 2021 at Washington D.C.’s Capital One Arena, the home venue for the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals. Another D.C. retail sportsbook has since opened at Nationals Park, home to the Washington Nationals.

Maryland’s gaming commission Wednesday also advanced retail licenses for a Betfred sportsbook at Long Shot’s OTB in Frederick as well as for the Boonsboro Events Center, which has not publicly announced a sportsbook partnership.

Up to 17 retail sportsbooks are specifically permitted under Maryland’s 2021 sports betting law. Six are open now, five of which are at casinos. FedEx Field, as well as the Baltimore Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium and the Baltimore Orioles’ Candem Yards, are also among the 17 named entities, though the latter two have not yet applied for sports betting licenses.

Wednesday’s vote comes as a timeline for Maryland’s lengthy online launch remains unclear.

Maryland voters approved statewide mobile wagering via a 2020 ballot measure and the ensuing legislation signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan in April 2021 technically legalized online betting in the state. But the law requires license approvals from both the gaming commission and the SWARC, further prolonging a complex process.

The SWARC has authority to award mobile licenses to up to 60 entities irregardless their affiliation with any land-based gaming facilities. Along with financial stability, criminal background checks and a host of other mandates, the commission is required to consider women, minority and small business ownership stakes in any applicant.

Though no timeline has been announced publicly, the SWARC has begun the sportsbook application process after months of delays. Gaming stakeholders are hoping for a mobile launch by this upcoming football season, though it remains too early to tell if that is possible.

Maryland could take as long as two years from bill signing to first mobile bet, far and away the longest turnaround of any of the more than 20 states with online wagering.

About the author

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Ryan Butler

Ryan is a veteran sports betting and iGaming regulation and breaking news journalist based in the US. A two-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner, he has reported on sports and politics since 2012. He has covered the gaming industry since 2018. Ryan graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Journalism and a minor in Sport Management.

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