Sports merchandising company Fanatics appears to be getting closer to launching its online sports betting product, Fanatics Sportsbook, in Ohio.
After beta-testing the Fanatics Sportsbook app in Ohio and Tennessee, the company on May 1 opened the app for a select group of customers. The app is now downloadable for IOS and Android, but users need a code in order to use it.
Sports betting in Ohio has been live since Jan. 1. Fanatics Sportsbook has not rushed its entrance to the Ohio market, but expectations are that it could be available to Ohio bettors in time for the upcoming NFL season.
Fanatics aims to launch in 12-15 states by September
The Fanatics Sportsbook beta-testing began in Ohio in mid-April. The company began testing its sportsbook app in Tennessee in early March.
Still, it’s possible that Massachusetts will be the first state in which Fanatics launches its sportsbook.
Last month, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced that Fanatics Sportsbook would be available in Massachusetts in May. But the company has yet to begin beta-testing the app in Massachusetts and no official launch plans have been announced.
Besides Massachusetts, Fanatics Sportsbook is licensed to operate its online sportsbook in Ohio, Tennessee and Maryland.
Fanatics’ entrance into the Ohio market will be a bit different than how most sportsbooks have entered Ohio and immediately looked to attract new customers. With an existing customer database of 95 million people, Fanatics will slowly roll out the sportsbook to current customers, with a full launch across Ohio coming down the line.
Fanatics Sportsbook plans for 2023
There is currently a Maryland retail Fanatics Sportsbook located inside FedExField, home of the Washington Commanders. The Fanatics Sportsbook at FedExField — which opened in January — is the first ever sportsbook to be located inside of an NFL stadium. It’s also the first Fanatics Sportsbook-branded product to be made available to the general public.
In an interview at the 2022 CAA World Congress of Sports event last October, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin said Fanatics Sportsbook would be in every major sports betting market — “15-20 states,” he said — by the start of the 2023 NFL season.
At the 2022 event, Rubin explained Fanatics’ strategy of patience over attempting to launch immediately in states as soon as sports betting is legalized and Fanatics receives licensing approval:
“I’d rather everyone spend their brains out and then have to make money, and then I come in with a big checkbook and then I’m spending when nobody else can.”
But at this month’s 2023 CAA World Congress of Sports, Rubin seemed to dial back expectations slightly, saying he hopes to have Fanatics Sportsbook available in 12-15 states by the start of the NFL season.
“We’re not in a rush there,” Rubin said.
Even with the lowered target, there are only five months before the NFL regular season kicks off on Sept. 5, giving Fanatics just five months to launch the app in at least a dozen states.
Potential beta-testers in Ohio can join waitlist
The Fanatics Sportsbook app appears in both the Apple and Google Play app stores.
After downloading the app, users are prompted to enter a one-time code given to those who have received invites to participate in the beta-testing. If you don’t have a code you can join the waitlist to receive an invitation “as soon as your spot opens on the roster,” the apps says.
Fanatics is using beta-testers’ feedback to update the sportsbook app.
“The goal of our expanded beta is simple — to get even better as we push forward to give our fans a better and more rewarding Sportsbook experience,” the app description on the Google Play store reads. “Like any athlete, we get better through tough, honest, and constructive coaching. You are the coach today. Your feedback here is invaluable to us. Please push the application to the limit and let us know how we can perform better.”
One of the features promoted heavily in the Fanatics Sportsbook description in the Apple App Store is FanCash, the loyalty program Fanatics uses for discounts on its sports apparel and merchandise online store.
Users of Fanatics Sportsbook can earn up to 5% back in FanCash for every dollar spent on the sportsbook. FanCash can be used on Fanatics merchandise or it can be redeemed for “BonusBets” to use on the sportsbook.
The Fanatics Sportsbook also features a “discovery feed” that shows users events and bet types most relevant to them, as well as the “Fanatics Withdrawal Tracker” that lets users “know where your money is throughout the withdrawal process.”
Fanatics Sportsbook is partnered with Ohio NHL, MLB franchises
Fanatics received its license to operate an online sportsbook in Ohio in November of last year.
Fanatics Sportsbook’s online sportsbook market-access partner is the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Fanatics is also licensed to partner with the Blue Jackets for a retail sportsbook, but neither the team nor Fanatics have announced plans for a brick-and-mortar sports betting location yet.
Fanatics is also partnered with MLB’s Cleveland Guardians for a retail sportsbook.
The Guardians announced in late March that a retail sportsbook at Progressive Field would be opening this summer in the former home of the New Era store. Fans will be able to place bets at outside ticket windows before entering the stadium.
Rubin has grown Fanatics greatly since acquiring it from its founders in 2011. Originally an e-commerce store selling third-party merchandise, under Rubin, the company transformed into what it calls “a new breed of mobile-first, direct-to-consumer global brand with its own manufacturing capabilities.”
In recent years, Fanatics has expanded into trading cards, collectibles and NFTs, on top of its burgeoning entry into the sports betting space.