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Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder met recently with Maryland lawmakers to urge the group to legalize sports betting so that he may offer wagering in a future stadium. During the meeting, Snyder intimated, according to the lawmakers, that he would be forced to move the team from Maryland without the revenue stream.
Sen. Guy J. Guzzone, the chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, told the Washington Post that the Redskins owner sat down with five lawmakers, including Senate President Bill Ferguson, and told the legislators that he would only build a stadium in Maryland if the state legalized sports betting and includes a provision that would allow wagering at the facility.
Snyder told the group that he would build a new stadium upon the current FedEx Field property, but only if sports betting was legal in the state and at the new facility could offer wagering. Illinois and Washington D.C. are two markets that have provisions in their sports betting law that allows betting at sports arenas and stadiums.
For Maryland to legalize sports betting, the state’s lawmakers would first need to pass a measure that would then go on to voters. A betting expansion in Maryland needs a constitutional ballot referendum, something that could be included in the November 2020 election ballot.
Preliminary discussions among the state’s gaming industry and Maryland lawmakers have focused on whether race tracks would be included with casinos for potential licenses.
Currently, the Baltimore-Washington D.C. metro area is home to two NFL franchises, the Baltimore Ravens and the Redskins. Both reside in Maryland, potentially affecting both teams if sports betting is legalized.
With the debate in its early stages, Snyder hopes to craft legislation that increases the draw and profit potential of businesses that could lease offices in a new domed stadium that the Redskins owner hopes to build.
Senators at the meeting were surprised that Snyder asked for the inclusion of sportsbooks at stadiums as the league has certainly resisted overtures to embrace gambling over the years. However, since the 2018 Supreme Court decision to legalize sports betting, all four of the big professional leagues have rapidly sped up their understanding of the issue.
A senator at the meeting told the Washington Post, “It was the first time it crossed my mind that the stadiums would have any interest,” the senator said. “I was surprised to think, given the history of professional sports and gambling, they would do it within the same venue.”
According to a delegate that requested anonymity, Snyder told the group that he worried that without sports betting, he believed that the Redskins would have trouble competing with the franchises in Washington D.C.
Snyder also suggested that Virginia would be the home of the new Redskins stadium if Maryland didn’t secede to his demands.
Sen. Guzzone said his Senate Budget and Taxation Committee was listening to all opinions on how sports betting could be offered in the state. “We’re in discussions with everybody who is interested, and I look at (the Redskins) like everyone else,” Guzzone said. “We have to make sense of what is best for the state.”
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