The Washington Football Team has received a sports betting permit in Virginia and, through the franchise’s partnership with FanDuel, launched a mobile sportsbook in the Commonwealth on Thursday.
The Virginia Lottery issued the permit to Washington on Wednesday, making the Football Team the first NFL franchise to receive a sports betting license.
Financial details of Washington’s partnership with FanDuel and how revenue from the Virginia sportsbook will be shared between the bookmaker and the team were not disclosed. NFL franchises are not allowed to directly participate in or provide sports betting; however, in states that grant teams market access, they can designate a sportsbook to utilize the license, a league spokesman told ESPN.
Washington declined to comment on the sports betting permit and referred questions to FanDuel.
“The way the Virginia legislation is written, there is preferential treatment to the team, which is one of the reasons why we’re privileged to be the first sportsbook live in the state of Virginia,” Mike Raffensperger, chief marketing officer for FanDuel, said Thursday.
Raffensperger said bettors in Virginia should expect to see Washington Football Team marks and logos on the online sportsbook. The partnership extends into Washington, D.C., where FanDuel signage will appear at Fedex Field.
Virginia’s sports betting market will launch online only; the move to allow retail sportsbooks is still being discussed. As of Thursday afternoon, FanDuel, in conjunction with the Football Team, was the only approved permit holder.
In addition to Virginia, Illinois and the District of Columbia also allow professional teams and/or stadiums to receive sports betting licenses. Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., has a retail sportsbook, and Nationals Park and Wrigley Field have announced intentions to add sports betting to their venues.
While Washington is the first NFL franchise to hold a sports betting permit, it is not expected to be the last.
“It’s exciting that the NFL teams and other league teams are getting involved,” Scott Ward, a government affairs partner for lobbying firm Orrick, who worked on the legislative process in Virginia, told ESPN. “I think we’re going to see this in other states, particularly throughout the South, where you don’t have casinos, including Texas.”
The Washington franchise has an established presence in Virginia, with its headquarters and training facility located in Ashburn. Virginia delegate Mark Sickles, who sponsored the sports betting legislation, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that no deal with Washington for a new stadium had been struck and that the granting of the permit to the Football Team was “a sign of good faith on our part.”
With Virginia’s launch, 20 states and the District of Columbia will have regulated sports betting markets. Five states have passed sports betting legislation and are gearing up to launch markets, while more than a dozen states are currently examining the issue. Idaho, Utah and Wisconsin are the only remaining states that have not introduced sports betting legislation since a 2018 ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down the federal statute that restricted regulated bookmaking to primarily Nevada.
ESPN’s John Keim contributed to this report.