The much-anticipated entry of Fanatics into the sports betting market will be the biggest story in the industry in 2023, according to a recent survey by HPL Digital Sport. And Massachusetts could be a launchpad for that story.
Fanatics Sportsbook has an online sports betting license in Massachusetts, and it expects to launch in MA in May. It also has licenses in Ohio, Tennessee Maryland and a retail sportsbook in Maryland. No online products yet. That will change soon, as Fanatics expects to launch in Tennessee this month.
Massachusetts could be next.
Last year, CEO Michael Rubin revealed the first Fanatics Sportsbook would debut in January in “multiple states” and soon be in “every major state.” That obviously hasn’t happened. But such a strong brand name is bound to cause an industry shake-up. Fanatics is one of the largest online retailers of licensed sportswear and merchandise, and also operates brick-and-mortar stores. In 2021, it reported $3.4 billion in revenue. It’s brand name name is well-known in North America.
And, again, we might see its second product in the Massachusetts sports betting market.
Fanatics the most anticipated new sportsbook in 2023
HPLDS surveyed “more than two-dozen” sports betting and gaming journalists from various publications from Jan. 12-23. It combined their answers with those of “over a half-dozen” industry consultants and analysts to create this report.
PlayMA is part of Catena Media. According to Michael Adorno, vice president of communications at HPLDS, “a number of Catena Media reporters took our survey.”
Beyond voting for Fanatics as the top story of 2023, 58% of respondents also said Fanatics was the most anticipated new market entrant. After Fanatics, 25% voted for the potential Disney (ESPN)/DraftKings partnership and 17% voted for Betr, and microbetting platform co-founded by YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul.
“Fanatics is the big, sexy news and will probably make waves because of the brand, huge audience and capital they have available,” one consultant said in the survey. “However, it doesn’t mean that this company will be the winner when everything shakes out. Execution is not easy. Many brands have already come and gone in a very nascent market. We’ll see how they look in 18 months.”
Another consultant added: “It stands to reason that Fanatics’ market entry has piqued the interest of impact betting media because, in stark contrast to ESPN’s long-anticipated-but-still-very-much-TBD arrival, Fanatics is already here, having spent the past 18 months amassing a formidable roster of industry executives, engineering infrastructure and trading bandwidth. Add to that a massive database of theoretically convertible users and a CEO with a voracious appetite for success in everything he tackles and you have the recipe for a genuinely disruptive force entering the fray.”
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Other top storylines mentioned in the HPLDS survey
Also earning mention was:
- Amazon and DraftKings securing licensing/naming rights for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package
- FanDuel announcing its decision to halt the spending of promotional dollars in New York
- The debut of FanDuel TV
- The microbetting phenomenon
- The exits of Fubo and MaximBet from the sports betting market
FanDuel and DraftKings lead market share, but can Fanatics challenge?
As of February 2023, FanDuel and DraftKings are 1-2 in the US for market share in the online sports betting market.
According to a report by CNBC in November 2022, FanDuel holds 42% of the market share, with DraftKings somewhere in the 20-25% range. BetMGM rounds out the top three, but it’s really FanDuel and DraftKings who control the burgeoning market in the US for online sportsbooks.
Most markets will thin out as time passes, and the shuttering of companies like MaximBet and Fubo last year indicate that’s a possibility. According to CNBC, 90% of the mobile sports betting operators in the US control only 2% of the market.
Fanatics, with a brand awareness established through its licensed sports apparel business, is not a new entity joining the landscape. With plenty of money to enter new markets, Fanatics Sportsbook could whittle away at the big two, FanDuel and DraftKings.
But so far, no one has seen what a Fanatics Sportsbook will look like. It will apparently launch in Tennessee this month. When Fanatics Sportsbook comes to Massachusetts, it will join a field of operators who just got there themselves, giving the new kid on the block a chance to start fresh.