NFL Owners Pass Vote on Game Day Sportsbook Operations Inside Stadiums

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The owners of teams in the National Football League have voted to allow physical sportsbooks inside their stadiums for the start of the 2023 season. Representatives of each team in the league met on March 27 in Scottsdale, Arizona, to hash out the plans.

Historic Development

It’s been just over five years since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which opened doors for the legalization of sports betting across the US. Sports franchises are now picking up the pace in efforts to embrace the opportunity afforded by that legislation.

So far, other sports have been far ahead of the NFL. The first legal sportsbook to open at a US stadium was Caesars at Washington, D.C’s Capital One Arena, which debuted in August 2020.

It wasn’t until September 2022 that the Arizona Cardinals became the first NFL team to set up a legal sportsbook inside their stadium, allowing fans to bet during matches. This also came not long before they hosted Super Bowl LVII, making it the first Super Bowl to be played in a state with legal sports betting.

At the time, Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt called this turn of events “a historic development for Arizona sports betting.”

The Cardinals were followed shortly by the Washington Commanders. They opened their own sportsbook with operator Fanatic at the FedEx Stadium in Maryland in January 2023.

With all this change taking place under the nose of the NFL, it was only a matter of time before they formalized the operations with a contract.

Deals and Details

This particular sportsbook deal was also incentivized by new research commissioned by the league. That study showed that, in legal states, a good number of fans have been betting online while at matches. So, it makes sense for the NFL teams to tap into that market where possible.

Each team will be responsible for finding a partner and setting up their own sportsbook. Reportedly, teams will keep the first $20 million in yearly revenue for themselves. Any excess will go into a pool that is shared among all the teams.

This news is the culmination of a remarkable reverse in the NFL, and indeed the nation’s attitude toward sports betting.

In the past, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been one of the most prominent campaigners against sports betting.

For example, just recently, US operators bowed to pressure and banned themselves from marketing activities with college sports teams. Five universities in the US are currently partnered with sports betting operators. All of these campaigns will cease July 1, according to the American Gaming Association.

But with national organizations like the NFL increasingly embracing the legalized market, how much the anti-gambling lobby can hold out in the long term remains to be seen.

Of course, a significant number of states have yet to legalize sports betting, let alone sports betting on match days in stadiums. So far, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, and Washington, D.C all have sportsbooks operating in stadiums. The state of New York has a bill in session, first tabled in January 2023, which could see them added to the list.

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