A Look at Fanatics’ Interesting Approach to Conquering the US Sports Betting Market
July 24, 2023

Ask any sports fan what they know about Fanatics, and you’ll probably get different answers. Don’t be surprised if you hear trading cards, sports jerseys, or betting thrown into the mix. And if you’re from the outside looking in, you might wonder which answers are correct.

The thing is, they all are. Fanatics is slowly expanding its reach to various parts of the sports world, including betting. And you can bet your dollars that capturing that ever-growing US sports betting market is the next primary target for Fanatics.

But to truly understand how well-positioned they are and how well they’re using their assets, we must start from the beginning.

How Fanatics Inc Got Its Start

Fanatics Inc’s current iteration started in 2011 as a merger between GSI Commerce and Florida-based Fanatics. Both firms were e-commerce companies dealing in licensed sports merchandise, so it made sense for them to merge. Michael Rubin, then-CEO of GSI, decided to retain the Fanatics name for the new entity.

How Fanatics Expanded Its Influence in the Sports Merchandise World

The merger between GSI and (old) Fanatics helped the new Fanatics Inc grow. Since 2011, it has shifted its focus from being an e-commerce business to a direct-to-consumer brand.

Fanatics Inc has also strategically acquired other sports-related brands, such as MLB uniform provider Majestic Athletic, UK-based football merch retailer Kitbag, sports card manufacturer Topps, and athletic headwear store Lids.

The company’s other acquisitions focused on improving its business model, which involved direct-to-consumer brands and vertical marketing. Fanatics also slowly expanded its brand deals portfolio for collegiate and professional sports teams, along with the company’s technological backend improvements.

Slowly but surely, Fanatics’ customer base grew.

How Fanatics Entered the Sports Betting Market

In 2021, Fanatics Inc established its sports betting division: Fanatics Betting and Gaming. But it wasn’t until January 2023 that Fanatics’ first sportsbook went live in Maryland. Since then, the company has announced plans to expand its operations in other states where sports betting is legal.

Interestingly enough, Fanatics has also agreed to purchase PointsBet’s US assets, perhaps in a bid to expand its sports betting arm quickly. The $225 million purchase will transfer PointsBet’s US sports betting operation assets to Fanatics Inc, undoubtedly accelerating Fanatics’ market expansion.

How Fanatics Plans To Integrate Its Sports Merchandise and Betting Business Together

Fanatics Inc boasts a collective customer base of around 95 million, and they all share one common interest: sports. It’s this common interest that Fanatics is looking to utilize once they finish absorbing PointsBet’s assets into their own.

One of their main ideas is to entice non-bettors into placing a bet by offering loyalty incentives. Fanatics has a loyalty currency called “Fan Cash,” which customers can earn by doing business with one of the company’s multiple stores. Bets are also eligible for Fan Cash, meaning bettors can enjoy the thrill of seeing their predictions come to fruition and work towards exclusive merchandise and rewards they otherwise wouldn’t get.

For Fanatics Betting and Gaming chief executive Matt King, Fan Cash integration into sports betting is only the tip of the iceberg. He’s aiming to entice the entire Fanatics customer base into betting with their in-house sportsbook by uniting niche interests into the same sports umbrella. The concept looks very promising on paper, but only time will tell whether this move will prove fruitful for Fanatics.