Massachusetts Hearing Sheds Light On Fanatics' Sports Betting Plans

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Massachusetts Hearing Sheds Light On Fanatics' Sports Betting Plans
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With more than 50 unique brands, the US sports betting space is already bursting at the seams. But that doesn’t mean more operators aren’t ready to join in.

One of the Massachusetts sportsbooks prepared to come off the sidelines is Fanatics. Fanatics has been enthusiastic but tightlipped about its sports betting plans. 

That all changed, as the company was forced to pull back the curtain in Massachusetts, where Fanatics is being considered for a mobile sports betting license by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). The hearing has been contentious at times, causing it to spill over to next week. 

The biggest reveal during the hearing was Fanatics’ disclosure it was building a platform from Amelco source code. That disclosure ends many rumors, confirming what Eilers & Krejcik Gaming reported in April 2021 and what many in the industry suspected despite Fanatics’ unwillingness to confirm the story. 

We also got an update on the preparedness of Fanatics Sportsbook. Fanatics CEO Matt King also told the MGC if approved, the company plans to go live in Massachusetts in early March, hopefully alongside other Massachusetts sportsbooks on the state’s universal mobile launch date. 

Fanatics already holds licenses in Maryland and Ohio but has yet to launch its mobile app in either locale. Given its noncommittal answer about its readiness for the Massachusetts launch date and failure to launch in Maryland and Ohio, it appears the Fanatics Sportsbook platform is still in the developmental stage.

Foray into Sports Betting

Fanatics is best known for selling sports jerseys and licensed team apparel. But because it possesses a database of sports fans, the company was immediately discussed as a potential major player in the burgeoning U.S. sports betting scene. 

Fanatics apparently agreed with the assessment and quickly went to work. Its first significant move was hiring former FanDuel Sportsbook CEO Matt King to spearhead building a sports betting division. 

Its next major task was developing or purchasing a sports betting platform. Initially reported by EK&G and confirmed during the Massachusetts hearing, Fanatics Sportsbook will use a platform built from Amelco source code. According to EK&G, the deal could be worth up to $100 million for Amelco.

The $100 million is nothing to scoff at, and it’s unclear if Amelco is a long-term solution for Fanatics. Rather, Amelco could be a placeholder, while Fanatics looks to upgrade and bring its tech in-house by purchasing a proprietary platform like PointsBet. That proposition becomes more likely if its foray into the U.S. sports betting market is successful. 

The Amelco Platform

Fanatics' platform is not an unknown quantity in the U.S. market. 

Amelco offers a customizable product, but its current list of U.S. clients (Hard Rock, the now defunct Fubo, Fox Bet and PlayUp) isn’t exactly burning up the space. 

That said, the Fox Bet app has scored well in previous rounds of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming app testing:

“Amelco-powered apps generally haven’t performed well in our testing, but FOX Bet — which sits atop an Amelco source code base — has consistently been an exception. Hard Rock is following that same riff-on-Amelco-source-code strategy with its new apps in Arizona and Virginia, which we will test for the first time in 2Q22. We note that the performance of the FOX Bet and Hard Rock apps should help us assess the potential of the eagerly anticipated Fanatics app, which we understand will be developed in-house using Amelco source code.” 

Can Fanatics Disrupt the U.S. Market?

What everyone is wondering is, what does Fanatics bring to the table, and is that enough to capture a significant piece of the U.S. betting market? 

The Fanatics database (two million people in its Massachusetts e-commerce database, per Fanatics) is seen as its golden ticket. Still, the amount of overlap between the type of sports fan that purchases merchandise from Fanatics and sports bettors is unknown. And as the MGC commissioners noted, there are questions about the eligibility of the database and the methodology Fanatics is using to come up with the two million number.

And, of course, plenty of companies have touted themselves as offering a novel product or service or been labeled as a game-changer before promptly fizzling out. Still, if the brand offers one of the better Massachusetts betting promos it'll definitely disrupt the sports betting scene in MA.

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