When Fanatics makes its highly anticipated sportsbook debut later this month, the e-commerce sports merchandise giant will do so at a site familiar to NFL fans.
Ahead of the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, Fanatics will open a retail sportsbook at FedEx Field, the home of the NFL’s Washington Commanders, according to Action Network’s Darren Rovell, who first reported the news. The Maryland launch of the company’s new brand, Fanatics Sportsbook, has been confirmed by a prominent industry source who spoke with Sports Handle.
As of Thursday morning, there is no timeline on Fanatics’ online sports betting launch in Maryland, according to the source.
Fanatics and the Washington Commanders will open the sportsbook on Jan. 20, pending regulatory approval, a Fanatics Sportsbook spokesman told Sports Handle on Thursday. The facility will become the first sportsbook inside an NFL stadium.
BREAKING: @Fanatics is making its first move in sports betting under the brand Fanatics Sportsbook.
First state? Maryland. First stop? Retail book at FedEx Field. First book inside NFL stadium.
Officially opens in eight days (1/20).
No registering for any mobile yet. pic.twitter.com/URsyHdZ4zI
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 12, 2023
Also on Thursday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission granted initial approval for Fanatics’ Category 3 digital sports betting license, but it will require the company to approve a responsible gaming program before it is allowed to launch its platform in that state. The Fanatics platform will be tethered to PENN Entertainment’s Plainridge Park Casino. It joins Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and WynnBET as online sportsbook operators winning initial approval in Massachusetts.
Placing parlays inside an NFL venue
The selection of FedEx Field as the site for Fanatics’ sportsbook debut should not surprise industry observers. In November, Maryland regulators issued a sports betting license to Fanatics through the company’s partnership with the Commanders. Over the summer, there were strong indications of a forthcoming partnership when work orders obtained by the Washington Business Journal revealed that “Fanatics Sportsbook at FedEx Field” appeared on “multiple contractor lists” in the Washington, D.C., area. Weeks later, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Board approved a sports betting license for the NFL venue in a 6-1 vote.
Wanna bet? Commanders' bid for an in-stadium, Fedex Field sports betting license gets approvedhttps://t.co/4r2dIxVsyJ
— PGCBlogging (@PGCBlogging) August 20, 2022
While there are indications that the Fanatics’ retail sportsbook will remain closed for Commanders’ home games, the NFL has yet to make a formal announcement. NFL policy, however, restricts clubs from opening the doors of an in-stadium sportsbook facility on the same day when an NFL game takes place within the vicinity of the stadium. Last August, ESPN reported that the Commanders knew of the stipulation when the franchise applied for a Maryland license but decided to submit an application anyway.
NFL policy still allows a retail sportsbook in Glendale, Ariz. to stay open on gamedays. But BetMGM Sportsbook at State Farm Stadium, the home of the Arizona Cardinals, is located in an area that is detached from the physical stadium. The 17,000 square foot facility on the grounds of the stadium is approximately 0.3 miles from the closest entrance to the venue.
Fanatics’ entry into sports betting could represent a tipping point for the industry. Beyond sports betting, Fanatics has a robust platform for NFT collectibles through its $500 million acquisition of Topps last year. As a result, Fanatics could become a centralized platform for online sports betting, NFTs, and the purchase of NFL merchandise through a common wallet. With deep inroads in all three, Fanatics may serve as “one-stop shopping” for the entertainment dollar of fans inside expansive sports venues.
Ahead of the company’s sportsbook launch, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin stated last fall that the company plans to be live with sports betting in 15-20 states by the start of the 2023 NFL season.
— Jill R. Dorson contributed to this story