Maryland Voters Approve Sports Betting, Creating More Competition For Virginia Sportsbooks

Posted on November 4, 2020 - Last Updated on November 13, 2020

After Tuesday night, four of the six states surrounding Virginia have a framework for legally betting on sporting events.

The recent successful Maryland sports betting vote created that new status quo.

The inevitable launch of sportsbooks in MD could have a bigger impact than in any of VA’s other neighbors, however. That has to do with the potential future of the Washington Football Team.

Details of the Maryland sports betting vote

According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland voters said yes to legal wagering by an almost two-to-one margin. That makes Maryland sportsbooks inevitable but does little to clear up what they will look like.

The MD legislature must now pound out a framework, as Question 2 didn’t contain any regulatory language. The state government needs to decide how involved the nine casinos and racetracks within its borders will be, for example.

The legislative process may not face many hurdles. Gov. Larry Hogan is on board, so it might come down to just enlisting the support of enough members of the state assembly. They will hammer out items like:

  • A tax rate for aggregate revenue
  • In-stadium sportsbook policies
  • License fees
  • Whether to restrict wagering on college sports
  • Whether to allow online sportsbooks to operate without a facility partner

What course the state takes on those matters could have a significant impact on stakeholders who pushed for the approval of Question 2. VA could feel the ramifications as well.

DraftKings’, FanDuel’s, and Washington Football Team’s interests

Three corporations that bankrolled advertising pleading with Marylanders to vote yes on Question 2 were DraftKings, FanDuel, and the Washington Football Team. The interests of the first two companies in this matter should be obvious.

With the question of legality settled, DraftKings and FanDuel might now push for a low tax rate, few restrictions on what events they can take action on, and untethered licenses for themselves. However, they will likely face opposition from casinos and racetracks in the state on that last issue.

As far as Virginia’s interest in how this plays out goes, that largely revolves around the Washington Football Team. Currently, the NFL franchise plays its home games in Landover, MD.

FedEx Field has hosted Washington since 1997, which the team’s owner Dan Snyder maintains helps make the venue obsolete by NFL standards. For years, he has maintained he wants a new home when the current lease expires in 2027.

In addition, Snyder has made it clear he would prefer to be able to offer sports betting at a new stadium. If MD voters had turned down Question 2, that would have given VA an advantage in possibly luring the franchise to Old Dominion.

The law in VA already allows for wagering at stadiums. The same goes for Washington, DC. To stay competitive, it’s fair to expect MD to enact a similar statute.

There’s no timeline for when the state might enact such laws right now. If sportsbooks in VA do go live early next year, that might apply pressure for MD to move quickly.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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