Just two days after the official launch of its online sportsbook in Ohio, Fanatics has opened a retail sportsbook in downtown Cleveland.
The new Fanatics Sportsbook at the Cleveland Guardians’ Progressive Field opened Aug. 18 with an afternoon ribbon-cutting event just prior to the Guardians’ first game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. Fanatics had already been operating as one of the 18 Ohio online sportsbooks, but it was only open to select users until now.
Former Guardians relief pitcher Paul Shuey, who played for Cleveland from 1994 to 2002, was on hand for the Fanatic Sportsbook’s grand opening celebration to place the first bet.
Shuey, a former North Carolina Tar Heel, placed a $20 moneyline bet on the University of North Carolina football team to beat the University of South Carolina on Sept. 2.
The opening comes in the midst of a flurry of activity in the Buckeye State for the sports merchandising company, showing a dedication to growing its sportsbook brand in Ohio, the largest of the four betting markets in which its online sportsbook is currently operating.
Sportsbook at Progressive Field aiming for quick, easy betting experience
The entrance to the new Fanatics Sportsbook at Progressive Field — which features four betting kiosks, two betting windows and seven television monitors displaying scores and odds — is at the Right Field District Gate at Larry Doby Way and East Ninth Street. The sportsbook, which sits just outside of the stadium, occupies the space that formerly housed a New Era cap store.
Ari Borod, chief business officer of Fanatics Betting and Gaming, tells PlayOhio the sportsbook space is a cozy 600 square feet, which helps facilitate a fast and easy betting experience for visitors.
“We’re really trying to create the best, quickest, easiest sportsbetting experience for bettors,” Borod says. “We took a more transactional approach to the sportsbook. It’s, you come in, place the bet quickly and then go enjoy the game at the ballpark.”
Due to MLB rules, the Fanatics Sportsbook is not accessible from inside of Progressive Field, though fans can use the online Fanatics Sportsbook Ohio — or any of the other 17 online sportsbooks operating in Ohio since sports betting launched in Ohio on Jan. 1 — from anywhere inside the stadium.
The Fanatics Sportsbook at Progressive Field will be open year-round, with normal hours on weekdays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on weekends from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. On days the Guardians are playing home games, the sportsbook will open two hours before the game’s start and remain open until the end of the game.
Stadium location offers good foot traffic, lots of home games
Fanatics Sportsbook at Progressive Field is the company’s first retail sportsbook at an MLB stadium. Borod says it’s a good fit, with game days offering the opportunity for a lot of foot traffic.
“The seating capacity (of the stadium) is obviously very big and you get more games than you’ll get with a basketball stadium or a football stadium,” Borod says. “The Guardians have just been a great organization to work with.
“When you think of Fanatics, generally their fabric with baseball fans, both in the merchandise business and the collectibles business … we had yet to do a retail sportsbook with a baseball team. So we wanted to make that a priority.”
Though a first with an MLB team, Fanatics’ retail location at the Guardians stadium isn’t the company’s first such deal with a professional sports franchise.
Fanatics’ entry into the sports betting business was a retail sportsbook in partnership with the Washington Commanders. The Fanatics Sportsbook at FedExField in Maryland, which opened in January, was the first ever sportsbook to be located inside an NFL stadium.
The new Fanatics Sportsbook is the fourth retail sportsbook to open in Cuyahoga County. There are BetJACK-branded sportsbooks at JACK Cleveland Casino and JACK Thistledown Racino, as well as a Caesars retail sportsbook, in conjunction with the Cleveland Cavaliers, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Cleveland Browns also have a license to open a retail sportsbook in Cuyahoga County but have yet to announce plans for one.
Fanatics also preparing for Columbus retail sportsbook
The Fanatics Sportsbook at Progressive Field is just the latest maneuver by Fanatics in its patient, strategic launch of its sports betting business in Ohio.
This spring in Ohio and Tennessee, the company opened its online Fanatics Sportsbook to select customers in its e-commerce business’ database of 95 million people for an extensive beta-testing period.
On Aug. 16, Fanatics Sportsbook introduced its sleek and sturdy platform to the general public in four states — Ohio, Tennessee, Maryland and Massachusetts.
In the very near future, there will be another retail Fanatics Sportsbook opening in Ohio. In late July, the company announced that Fanatics Sportsbook Columbus — in partnership with the Columbus Blue Jackets — would open just across from Nationwide Arena in late August.
Borod says the kiosks at the retail sportsbooks in Cleveland and Columbus use the same technology as the Fanatics Sportsbook app, so the interface and lines are the same. Ultimately, he says, the company wants to incorporate into the kiosks the Fanatics rewards program, which offers 1%-5% back in fan cash on every bet.
Fanatics’ latest moves in Ohio come on the heels of the announcement of the company’s acquisition of PointsBet Sportsbook earlier this summer. The $225 million deal will give Fanatics access to the sports betting markets in 12 additional states, as well as potentially enable Fanatics to take over PointsBet’s market share in Ohio and Maryland.
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Fanatics already performing relatively well in limited Ohio rollout
Despite its limited rollout in Ohio, the online Fanatics Sportsbook has already performed relatively well.
Fanatics Sportsbook first appeared on the Ohio Casino Control Commission’s monthly sports betting revenue reports in May, where Fanatics reported just over $1 million in handle and over $212,000 in revenue.
In the OCCC’s June sports betting reports, Fanatics saw its handle increase by 115%, with its revenue jumping to more than $402,000. The increase put it ahead of PointsBet’s performance for the month.
While the opening of the Cleveland and Columbus retail sportsbooks will help raise the profile of the Fanatics Sportsbook brand among sports fans, they won’t have a huge impact on the company’s bottom line in Ohio.
So far, all retail sportsbooks in the state only account for just over 3% of the overall sports betting revenue in Ohio.