Approved: New York Sports Betting Regulators Sign Off On Fanatics Takeover

Written By Grant Lucas on October 3, 2023
logo for pointsbet a fanatics experience, which received approval to launch in new york

Fanatics is on its way to New York.

The New York State Gaming Commission announced during its Tuesday meeting that it has approved Fanatics Betting and Gaming to officially take over the PointsBet-branded online sportsbook, allowing Fanatics to finally join the NY sports betting scene.

“Today, the New York State Gaming Commission approved Fanatics Betting and Gaming’s acquisition of PointsBet New York LLC,” Fanatics said in a statement.

“We would like to thank the commissioners and staff of the New York State Gaming Commission for their time and effort in delivering us some great news today. We look forward to working with the staff of the New York State Gaming Commission to bring the Fanatics Sportsbook to the largest sports wagering state in the U.S.”

This approval also sets the stage for Fanatics to one day join the ranks of NY online casinos when those are inevitably legalized down the road. Fanatics has been open about its intentions to offer online casino apps as well as sportsbook apps.

Recapping the timeline of Fanatics NY

The NYSGC became aware of Fanatics’ acquisition of PointsBet’s US operations in April, according to Robert Williams, executive director of the commission.

Fanatics signed a purchase agreement on May 14, followed by PointsBet’s board of directors approving the deal on June 6. Twenty-three days later, PointsBet shareholders signed off on the acquisition, which featured Fanatics paying $225 million to take over.

Headquartered in New York, Fanatics has already begun integrating itself with the existing PointsBet sportsbook, rebranding the product at PointsBet, a Fanatics Experience – including in neighboring New Jersey.

And now the Empire State will soon have its own version of a Fanatics Sportsbook NY.

Rest assured: Fanatics advised that it will maintain the use of PointsBet’s existing technology and infrastructure. The only change, really, is the utilization of an outside party to handle customer support. Fanatics will also “holistically evaluate the PointsBet operation and will seek incremental prospective changes as they determine prudent and appropriate.”

As relayed by Williams, this “will ensure a seamless transition” for customers currently using PointsBet Sportsbook NY.

NYSGC approves, but concern still lingers regarding advertising and promotions

As Williams detailed during the meeting, Fanatics is well-known as a manufacturer and online retailer of licensed sportswear, sports collectibles and merchandise, and trading cards.

Brian O’Dwyer, chair of the NYSGC, made sure to bring this up as a way to voice his concerns when speaking to representatives of Fanatics who were present at the meeting.

“As you well know, the commission has over the past year been very concerned about advertising and promotions to people that are under age,” O’Dwyer began. “Obviously the concern I have is the trading cards are meant, in large part, for people who are under the age allowed to participate in betting. In fact, looking over the materials, I’m seeing many superheroes and stuff that I wouldn’t know about but my grandchildren certainly would.

“Can you give us an assurance that there wouldn’t be any sort of cross-promotions between the trading cards and sports betting?”

A Fanatics representative did his best to deliver such assurances, noting that Fanatics aims to “deliver the best experience” but adding that the company still needs to abide by state regulations and avoid advertising to underage individuals.

O’Dwyer hasn’t forgotten about Ohio debacle

The NYSGC chair also mentioned another potential aspect of Fanatics’ business model, again highlighting that Fanatics produces and sells jerseys.

“I would assume at some point in time, you may decide to have a cross-promotion on a jersey versus a bet. That just makes sense to me” O’Dwyer said.

Earlier this year, Fanatics launched in Ohio. A customer shared a screenshot via social media of his experience purchasing a Brooklyn Dodgers hat that resulted in Fanatics offering a $30 bonus bet at its sportsbook. The Ohio Casino Control Commission quickly cracked down on the instance, forcing Fanatics to discontinue the offer.

Concluded O’Dwyer:

“I think the real problem that I’m grappling with here is unique to you among all our licensees here is that there is that potentiality of you taking that portion of your business (collectibles, trading cards, merchandise) and using them in a promotion (for sports betting). … I think what I really need from you is a representation that that will not occur.”

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the managing editor for PlayNY. A longtime, award-winning sports writer, Grant has covered gambling and legal sports betting since 2018, when he got his start reporting on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania industries. He now oversees PlayNY as New York expands legalized gambling to sports betting and online casino gaming.

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