For NFL fans, there is still an air of uncertainty regarding the 2020 season. Questions surrounding stadiums allowing fans, and the season starting on time remain relevant. A relevant question for football bettors is whether stadiums might feature betting kiosks.
Like with best practices for such venues amidst the coronavirus pandemic, this is somewhat of a fluid situation. At most of the venues where NFL teams play their home games, it is far from imminent. None of the NFL’s 32 franchises have to worry about violating league rules in doing so, however.
The NFL recently modified its stance on the subject to allow teams to operate betting lounges during games, which will likely feature kiosks along with windows. The bigger obstacle for most franchises is whether state governments allow for that activity.
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On the goal line for betting kiosks
Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears: The Chicago Park District, which owns Soldier Field, can get in on this anytime it wants. Under Illinois Law, stadiums with a capacity of at least 17,000 can apply for master licenses to offer online and retail wagering. So far, the District has not publicly announced applying for such a license.
Time is running short to get at least part of that done, however. Illinois law also says that applicants for master licenses only have until July 1 to submit application fees.
Illinois law requires a $10 million upfront fee for such a license but sweetens that deal for sporting venues like Soldier Field by giving them a five-block exclusivity zone. If the District does open up a sportsbook at Soldier Field, no other book will be allowed to take wagers within five blocks of the stadium.
Unfortunately, Soldier Field is the only place where the law currently tees up kiosks so nicely for an NFL stadium owner.
In the red zone
There are several states in which online sports wagering is legal, but laws are murky about whether kiosks inside sporting venues are legal.
A possible workaround for the operators of these venues is to forego betting kiosks but still create “betting lounge” spaces. These would be areas with all the aesthetics of a retail sportsbook like a bar, many TVs, and VIP seating but without physical betting devices.
The operators of the stadiums could monetize these spaces by partnering with licensed online sportsbook operators in their states. Those operators could offer bettors special bonuses and odds only available within those geofenced locations.
Bettors would then actually do their wagering on their own devices instead of kiosks. Other possibilities include pushing legislators and regulators in the relevant states to make kiosks expressly allowable.
NFL venues where we could see stadium operators test the limits include:
- Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders
- Empower Field at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos
- Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions
- Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers
- Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles
- Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts
- MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and Jets
- Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans
In opponents’ territory
There is another category of states where the conditions could be right for betting kiosks in NFL stadiums in the future. That depends on how things play out, however.
In Ohio, there is a bill to legalize online and retail wagering in the state Senate. Like for many states, it doesn’t expressly grant the ability to operate a retail sportsbook to sporting venue operators. It’s possible that it could be part of a future amendment, however.
The state of California is in an even more preliminary position. A California Senate committee has advanced a proposal that would amend the CA Constitution to allow for online and retail sports betting.
Like the bill in OH, the current language of the proposal does not give leave for stadium operators to run sportsbooks. They could use the same mobile workaround as the above category, however.
Louisiana might be the closest state to joining the list above. Voters there will decide for themselves whether to legalize online and retail sports betting within their own parishes this November.
If voters in Orleans Parish approve the referendum, that would create a framework that the state could work with to introduce kiosks. It may take some legislative fine-tuning, however.
The following stadiums might be affected if the current legislative initiatives become law:
- FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns
- Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers
- Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints
- Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals
- SoFi Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams
On their own 25-yard line
There are a few other jurisdictions where there has been recent momentum toward the parameters which might allow for betting kiosks in NFL stadiums but it isn’t an active undertaking. These are Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Missouri.
The situation with “Washington, D.C.’s” NFL team, which actually plays its home games in Hyattsville, Maryland, is quite unique. It’s no secret that owner Dan Snyder wants a new stadium and that he prefers that stadium to exist in a jurisdiction where the venue could offer legal wagering as an amenity.
Both Virginia and Washington, D.C. have legalized online and retail sports betting. Both have done so in a way that would allow an NFL stadium to house a sportsbook.
The District is ahead of Virginia, however, in that wagering is actually live there right now. Virginia might offer a greater variety of site options, however.
If Snyder moves his team to the District or Virginia, the stadium would instantly enter the same category as Soldier Field. Other than FedEx Field, the other stadiums in this category are:
- Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs
- Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots
- M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the Baltimore Ravens
- Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home of the Atlanta Falcons
The other team has the ball
The remainder of NFL stadiums are in jurisdictions where sports betting remains illegal or has other restrictions upon it that preclude the possibility of betting kiosks. For example, sports wagering is only legal at tribal casinos in North Carolina and Washington state.
Also, in the relevant states for these venues, there has been no significant legislative push to change that status quo within the most recent legislative terms. These venues are:
- AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys
- Bank of America Stadium, the home of the Carolina Panthers
- CenturyLink Field, the home of the Seattle Seahawks
- Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins
- New Era Field, the home of the Buffalo Bills
- NRG Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans
- Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- State Farm Stadium, the home of the Arizona Cardinals
- TIAA Bank Field, the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars
- US Bank Stadium, the home of the Minneapolis Vikings
Like how not all 32 NFL teams are in the same class on the field, NFL franchises’ venues are in different places in terms of proximity to offering betting kiosks to fans.