Last October, Fanatics Sportsbook CEO Michael Rubin pointed to being live in 15 to 20 U.S. jurisdictions by the start of the 2023 NFL season. A few months later, he walked that number back to 12, but with the start of the NFL season just one week away, it doesn’t appear the company will hit either target.
Still, for a company that a year ago didn’t have a wagering platform or even the staff to run one, Fanatics Sportsbook has sprinted into the wagering landscape and well could have its Amelco-based platform live in 12 to 15 additional states by the end of 2023.
The first portion of Fanatics’ multi-phase deal to acquire PointsBet‘s U.S. operations goes into effect on Thursday. As a bonus, the company added market access in one more state when the Wyoming Gaming Commission voted Thursday to approve a request to change ownership of “PointsBet Wyoming” to “FGB Enterprises OpCo, LLC, dba Fanatics Sportsbook.” The Wyoming regulator was the second on the state level to approve such a change since the Fanatics-PointsBet deal was approved by investors in June.
PointsBet hasn’t gone live with its Wyoming approval, and it’s unclear if or when Fanatics will. But the approval, along with the one in Pennsylvania last week, is instructive in terms of timing.
Every state is a new process
Because sports betting is a states’ rights issue, operators must incorporate in each state and, in turn, each state regulator must approve that entity for a license. So far, the only regulator to approve the PointsBet-Fanatics transfer is the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which did so on Aug. 22 with the caveat that Fanatics must still get an interim authorization from the PGCB executive director as well as sign a Statement of Conditions and Indemnification agreement.
New York‘s regulator said it would discuss and potentially vote on the transfer at its September meeting, but Fanatics will still have administrative procedures to complete. At a New York State Gaming Commission meeting on Aug. 3, Chairman Brian O’Dwyer said his agency would review Fanatics’ suitability to operate in the state and likely bring its findings to a vote in September. But as in Pennsylvania, an approval won’t lead to an immediate launch.
So cool to see not one, but two Fanatics billboards outside of Fenway Park in Boston – including one for Fanatics Sportsbook! pic.twitter.com/ZYSRVVhvqa
— Michael Rubin (@michaelrubin) August 21, 2023
It’s also important to note that Fanatics Sportsbook won’t simply be re-skinning the PointsBet platform, like PENN Entertainment will be able to do with its new ESPN BET platform later this year. According to previous comments, Fanatics Sportsbook will be working to integrate the PointsBet technology into its newly crafted in-house platform, and given how methodically the company rolled out its app in its first four markets, it would seem that it will take its time to fully merge the platforms before unveiling the new product.
In Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Tennessee, Fanatics Sportsbook went through months of beta testing with a small group of customers, who provided feedback before the company implemented new ideas and on Aug. 16 opened the platforms for general use. The first beta platform was opened to select customers in Tennessee in March.
Ahead of Aug. 31, Fanatics had market access without the PointsBet deal in five U.S. states — Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Tennessee — and was live in four. Digital platforms in Kentucky can go live as early as Sept. 28.
Deal opens pathway in NY, MI, PA, and VA
The PointsBet deal gets Fanatics access to 12 states that it does not currently have a pathway into, including New York and Pennsylvania and several other states with caps on licenses. PointsBet was one of nine operators to get a New York license in 2021, and while operators have consistently pushed back against the state’s 51% tax rate, there is a certain cachet to being live in the largest legal betting state by population in the U.S.
— Fanatics Sportsbook (@FanaticsBook) August 9, 2023
While PointsBet is live in Maryland and Ohio, Fanatics is as well and won’t need to use PointsBet to get access. It’s unclear what will happen to PointsBet’s partners in those states once the transition is complete.
The PointsBet deal also bought Fanatics access in Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia, and West Virginia. Of those states, Michigan and Virginia each have license caps, meaning that without PointsBet, Fanatics Sportsbook could not have gained access in the near future.
Additionally, iCasino is legal in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and Fanatics is expected to offer that form of gambling there. Colorado and New Jersey regulators are also considering licensing Fanatics’ sports betting operations.
In the remaining states, there is no license cap, but as in New York, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming, Fanatics likely won’t have to go through the whole application process in order to rebrand and launch its platform.