Washington Football Team Becomes 1st NFL Franchise to Get Sports Betting License

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIJanuary 21, 2021

FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, file photo, seats at Fedex Field display the Washington Football Team logo during pregame warmups of an NFL football game between Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles,  in Landover, Md. The Washington Football Team will allow only friends and family in attendance at FedEx Field on Sunday, Oct. 25, against the Dallas Cowboys, even after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan allowed teams to fill outdoor stadiums to 10% capacity. A team spokeswoman said there would be no change from Washington’s previous arrangement to not sell tickets to fans for this game at the stadium in Landover, Maryland. At 10% capacity, roughly 8,000 fans would be allowed, something that remains possible later this season. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Susan Walsh/Associated Press

The Washington Football Team became the first NFL franchise to receive a sports betting permit as the state of Virginia implemented legalized gambling Thursday, according to David Purdum of ESPN. 

Washington, which counts the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia as its market, received the permit through the Virginia Lottery on Wednesday, setting in motion the franchise's partnership with FanDuel. 

FanDuel Sportsbook @FDSportsbook

VIRGINIA — IT'S GO TIME 🤑 https://t.co/GlnAd6nmjW | @erinkatedolan https://t.co/64PuZeoHNK

It's unclear how Washington and FanDuel will share revenue, especially with NFL franchises barred from directly participating in or providing betting options. However, Purdum noted, teams located in states that permit sports betting can designate a specific sportsbook to use the license. 

"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," FanDuel Chief Marketing Officer Mike Raffensperger told Purdum.

The deal will allow FanDuel to use WFT branding in Virginia, while the team's stadium in Maryland is likely to feature signage from the sportsbook as well, though fans at FedExField on game day will not be able to place bets from their seats. The team's headquarters is located in Ashburn, Virginia.

Sports betting is, however, legal in Washington, D.C.

"It's exciting that the NFL teams and other league teams are getting involved," Scott Ward, a government affairs partner for the lobbying firm Orrick who was involved in the legalization in Virginia, told Purdum. "I think we're going to see this in other states, particularly throughout the South, where you don't have casinos, including Texas."

A total of 20 states, plus D.C., offer legalized sports betting, with more states likely to follow. 

The NFL has now entered the fold, too, with Washington leading the way.