It’s rare to see Washington Commanders fans cheering for the Philadelphia Eagles or the New York Giants, but Commanders fans were supporting both teams Saturday night at the Fanatics Sportsbook at FedEx Field.
Those die-hard Commanders supporters didn’t change their fandom after another disappointing season, but the potential of winning a wager temporarily outweighed their disdain for the teams on the field.
One fan went wild as Eagles running back Boston Scott scored a second-quarter touchdown. The role player continued his remarkable run against the Giants, against whom he’s run for 11 of his 19 career touchdowns. One happy bettor won a +370 wager when Scott reached the end zone to become an anytime touchdown scorer.
Eagles’ RB Boston Scott now has scored 11 touchdowns in nine games vs. the Giants.
Scott has scored seven touchdowns in 52 games vs. all other NFL teams.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 22, 2023
There were plenty of cheers for both sides Saturday, although the Eagles contingent ended the night much happier after Philadelphia easily covered the spread in a 38-7 victory. The game was played one day after Friday’s grand opening of the new retail sportsbook in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Fanatics Sportsbook at FedEx Field is the first retail sportsbook located inside an NFL stadium, and it’s also the first Fanatics Sportsbook in the U.S. The sportsbook provides a unique retail experience, even though NFL rules don’t allow bets to be placed in the facility during Commanders home games.
Fanatics also operates the team store, which is located alongside the sportsbook, giving fans a chance to place bets and buy team merchandise in the same outing.
“Our first retail location, with adjacency to the Commanders Team store, is a physical representation of what Fanatics will deliver to sports fans all over North America,” Ari Borod, chief business officer of Fanatics Betting and Gaming, said in a press release. “We are rolling out our platform first at retail and we will have more exciting news to share in the coming months as we bring to market new mobile technology designed to improve the betting experience for sports fans.”
Plenty of fans visited FedEx Field for the grand opening Friday, while I joined others venturing into the sportsbook Saturday night. Dozens of customers watched in the small but engaging venue as two of the Commanders’ division rivals competed in the NFC Divisional Round.
Fitting into the region
Maryland’s retail sports betting market is growing, with five casinos and now five other locations having retail sportsbooks. Nearby in Washington, D.C., Audi Field (FanDuel), Capital One Arena (Caesars Sportsbook), and Nationals Park (BetMGM) have retail sportsbooks in professional sports stadiums. Mobile sports betting is also legal and operational in Maryland, Washington, and Virginia.
The Fanatics Sportsbook at FedEx Field compares well to those D.C. venues.
There’s no competing with the sheer size of the Caesars Sportsbook at Capital One Arena (18,000 square feet), which features two floors and a massive dining area with plenty of seating areas. That location is especially enjoyable when crowded during major sporting events, such as March Madness.
Fanatics Sportsbook at FedEx Field is notably smaller, as a 5,000-square-foot facility with eight betting windows, 21 betting kiosks, 38 TV monitors, and two LED video walls. There’s also a full-service restaurant. While smaller than the location at Capital One Arena, Fanatics’ sportsbook gives fans a more intimate setting and makes it easy to feel a sense of community watching games.
FanDuel’s sportsbook at Audi Field stands out from its peers because customers can be in the sportsbook on D.C. United game days, and the location actually has a field view. The sportsbooks at Capital One Arena, FedEx Field, and Nationals Park don’t have field views, but the Audi Field location is only 2,550 square feet, and it’s not an overly exciting location on non-game days.
Nationals Park’s BetMGM location is a similar size (4,000 square feet) to the FedEx Field sportsbook, although it’s a bit darker and feels less open than the Fanatics Sportsbook. Still, the BetMGM location at Nats Park is a decent spot to watch a game and grab food or a drink.
Sports fans can’t go wrong visiting any of the four locations, and Fanatics Sportsbook should compete well with those retail options as well as Maryland’s casinos and smaller sports betting operations.
Road game gathering spot?
The Fanatics Sportsbook is not permitted to take bets during Commanders home games, but it will be open for fans who want to grab food and drinks. That could be fun before or after a game, and some fans will likely visit during home games, although personally I’d feel odd watching on TVs with the game happening in a different part of the building.
The location will be open during road games and on non-game days, making it a likely destination for fans eager to gather in a small sportsbook environment. The sportsbook’s hours are 10 a.m.-midnight daily.
Being outside of D.C. may be a disadvantage compared to some sportsbooks in the region, as there’s typically more reason for the average Washington area resident to be near Nats Park, for example, than FedEx Field.
While the location isn’t perfect, Saturday’s game between the Giants and Eagles showed there’s enjoyment to be had at the sportsbook, even when the Commanders aren’t playing. The connection to the team store only adds to the experience. Fans can buy merchandise at the same location where they place wagers and enjoy a meal.
“When our journey began over two years ago, we knew we had to reinvigorate the guest experience at FedEx Field and open the campus to the community,” Washington Commanders Team President Jason Wright said in a press release Friday. “Today is a special moment in realizing that vision as we open this innovative sportsbook, operating seven days a week for sports fans throughout our community.”