With NFL Interest, Jeff Bezos Could Become a Contender In The Sportsbook Scene

Posted on February 22, 2021

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos reportedly wants to use some of his vast, vast fortune to get into the region’s sports betting industry.

Well, sorta, anyway.

Sure, his sights may be on the bigger prize: an NFL franchise, namely the Washington Football Team. And given the regional scene these days, sportsbooks and professional sports franchises could soon go hand in hand.

As a result, Bezos could wield some influence in Virginia or beyond.

Jeff Bezos, a Washington Football Team owner?

You see, the man who’s No. 1 on Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires has long wanted an NFL team. And, according to a report from Front Office Sports’ A.J. Perez, with his reported $186 billion fortune, Bezos has recently inquired about purchasing a piece of the WFT.

Given Washington’s messy state of affairs, it wouldn’t be an easy transaction. But Bezos, whose NFL interest first really came to light in 2019, has some factors working in his favor.

In addition to the massive funds needed to get into sports-team ownership, the 57-year-old already has ties to the Washington, DC area. Bezos also reportedly has plenty of support among the NFL’s owners, including current majority WFT owner Dan Snyder.

As FOS learned from court filings, Bezos’ attorney recently spoke to Moag & Co. The Baltimore-based sports and entertainment investment firm is currently trying to sell a chuck of the team that belongs to three disgruntled minority owners:

  • Frederick Smith: FedEx founder, chairman, and CEO
  • Dwight Schar: NVR, Inc. chairman of the board and real estate mogul
  • Robert Rothman: Black Diamond Capital CEO and investor

Their collective ownership represents approximately 40% of the team, which is valued at about $3.5 billion. The relationship between Snyder and the minority owners, namely Schar, has grown contentious, with a federal judge chiding the parties’ “scorched-earth approach” to the conflict.

WFT and future sportsbook plans

Someone of Bezos’ stature and financial resources could help bring some stability to a franchise that experienced plenty of turmoil in recent years.

And what a time it is for sports owners, especially those in the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia).

DC and Virginia are already operations with legal sportsbook markets. Additionally, Maryland recently legalized sports betting and is working toward regulations and an eventual launch, likely in 2022.

Virginia formally launched its market in January. As part of the debut, lawmakers offered “substantial and preferred consideration” to professional sports teams based in Virginia. That gave FanDuel Sportsbook, which has a partnership with the WFT, a leg up on the competition, and the industry giant was first to launch. After all, the Washington Football Team front office is headquartered in Virginia in the DC suburb of Ashburn.

However, Virginia (along with Maryland) is hoping to woo the franchise when its current stadium deal at FedExField is up in 2027.

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Snyder and Bezos could shake up sports betting

Snyder has made no secret of his desire to have a retail sportsbook on-site in any new stadium that the team occupies. And with the potential backing of a tech-savvy mogul such as Bezos, the duo could blaze some new trails when it comes to execution.

Although sports betting is still a nascent endeavor for the NFL and its owners, it’s already shown massive potential. And it’s only going to get bigger as more and more states come online and as sports leagues become increasingly comfortable with a once-taboo association with gambling.

Like any industry experiencing explosive growth, sportsbook operators and their partners, including sports franchises, are going to have to deal with plenty of future headaches. For sports betting, those pain points could come with streaming, distribution, technology, and other logistics.

Considering all those potential challenges, it becomes clear that Bezos would bring more to an NFL team than a fat wallet.

Photo by AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais
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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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