Does Fanatics Have Its NJ Sports Betting Road Mapped Out?

Written By Chris Imperiale on June 29, 2022
Fanatics Sportsbook Image via Shutterstock

New Jersey sports bettors could soon be looking at a new online sportsbook in the near future. Last week, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin announced on Twitter that he is forced to sell his stake in the Philadelphia 76ers because of “a soon-to-launch sports betting operation.”

Many know Fanatics as a sports apparel and memorabilia brand. However, an online sports betting app has been in the works for some time now, with the company trademarking the name BetFanatics in May.

Last week, the company was granted initial approval for a retail sports betting license by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission.

Here in the Garden State, there is a possibility that Fanatics could gain market access via an existing NJ sports betting operator.

News also released that Fanatics might actually purchase the existing US sportsbook, Tipico. The online sports betting provider debuted in NJ as the state’s 19th sportsbook in Oct. 2020.  The brand is currently active in Colorado, too.

So, if an agreement is reached, Garden State bettors will likely see a BetFanatics option sooner than later.

Fanatics looking to acquire Tipico sports betting

Besides the sports brand entering NJ with a new platform, it may have the option to just rebrand through acquisition.

According to CNBC, the merchandise company is currently discussing the terms of a potential sale. Sources mention that the two sides are negotiating price.

Even with Tipico’s NJ presence, many might not be aware of the book because it’s not a household name in the US yet. It originally founded in 2004 in Europe, and is a “leading sports betting provider in Germany.

Despite not having an active sportsbook yet, Rubin made his intentions clear in the past. In February, he talked about his goals with Fanatics in this new space with the Sports Business Journal. Rubin said:

“We can be the No. 1 player in the world in that business in 10 years. That does seem ambitious for someone who’s not in the business today, but our strategic advantages are that we are one of the best-known digital sports brands and we touch so many fans.”

Advantages of buying Tipico

Here is New Jersey, Tipico offers both online sports betting and casino. The company shares a land-based partnership with Ocean Casino Resort.

Tipico is currently the only sports betting skin operating under the Ocean license.

However, Fanatics still has the option of starting from scratch.

At the same time, there are several benefits for Fanatics if they choose to purchase Tipico’s existing book. While Rubin might be right in the number of fans aware of his brand, that doesn’t necessarily make them sports bettors.

Since the state already includes so many choices when it comes to NJ online sportsbooks, getting the ball rolling isn’t an easy task. Many apps have been established here for several years, so lots of prospective customers may already be accounted for.

That’s where taking over an existing brand can help. Tipico already has bettors that utilize its app on a daily basis.

With Fanatics taking over its present customer base, it’s a step closer to competing with the top sportsbooks in the state as soon as the deal is done. Even though Tipico isn’t delivering massive betting figures in NJ (around $7 million in total revenue since launch), it’s an enhanced starting point that most operators don’t get.

Of course, purchasing the company also allows Fanatics to bypass lining up a market access deal with an Atlantic City casino.

Rubin sells 76ers and Devils ownership stake

If there was any doubt that Rubin and Fanatics would join the sports betting industry, that all disappeared last week.

Rubin’s sale of his 10% share in Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment makes things serious now. The group owns the 76ers, in addition to the New Jersey Devils.

This move now permits Rubin to join the legal sports betting world because he’s no longer an NBA team owner. It opens up the ability for BetFanatics to accept sports wagers in NJ on both the Sixers and Devils going forward, as well.

Naturally, that would have been a major issue otherwise for Fanatics once it went live in NJ.

Rubin took to Twitter to explain himself. He wrote:

“As our Fanatics business has grown, so too have the obstacles I have to navigate to ensure our new businesses don’t conflict with my responsibilities as part-owner of the Sixers. With the launch of our trading cards and collectibles business earlier this year — which will have individual contracts with thousands of athletes globally — and a soon-to-launch sports betting operation, these new businesses will directly conflict with the ownership rules of sports leagues. Given these realities, I will sadly be selling my stake in the Sixers and shifting from part-owner back to life-long fan.”

So, with that now in the rearview, all eyes are on Fanatics and their next sports betting move.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale covers legal sports betting and casino gambling in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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