Fanatics Sportsbook’s soft launch in Ohio and Tennessee this spring showed the operator’s unique approach right out of the gate.
Instead of a full-scale launch, Fanatics opened up the sportsbook product for beta testing. It drew from its extensive database of 95 million customers who purchased sports merchandise from Fanatics’ juggernaut e-commerce business.
Those customers provided feedback over the ensuing months that helped Fanatics improve the product.
In its limited testing rollout, Fanatics Sportsbook still fared better than several other Ohio online sportsbooks in the state. In May, the first full month of its soft launch, Fanatics had higher revenue than six other sportsbooks.
But in June, things ramped ramped up. Fanatics’ handle increased by 115%, and revenue nearly doubled.
Fanatics Sportsbook officially launched in Ohio on Aug. 16, boasting a sleek, fast and user-friendly platform attached to a brand name already well-established among sports fans.
Helping further raise its profile in the state, Fanatics also opened two retail sportsbooks in Ohio.
On Aug. 18, a Fanatics Sportsbook opened at the Cleveland Guardians’ Progressive Field. Fanatics also opened a retail sportsbook in Columbus on Aug. 25 adjacent to Nationwide Arena, the playing home of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are also Fanatics’ market-access partners for its online sportsbook in Ohio.
Fanatics eschews advertising, huge promo spend early on
Fanatics has had limited advertising for its sportsbook. This included its initial Ohio sportsbook bonus. The promo gave $200 in bonus bets to new users who wagered $10 or more.
Still, Fanatics Sportsbook’s August revenue numbers in Ohio were eye-opening. With just 15 days included after the wider launch, Fanatics posted a $6.8 million handle for the month.
All three of those sportsbooks posted eight-figure handles in August. However, they had the entire month and much more advertising to do it.
Fanatics outperformed all of Ohio’s mid-tier online sportsbooks like Hard Rock Bet and Tipico Sportsbook. Its revenue in August was more than double both Hard Rock’s and Tipico’s.
Fanatics spent $2.7 million on promotions in August, the third highest of any sportsbook in the state.
It was behind only dominant market leaders DraftKings Ohio and FanDuel Ohio. But that’s to be expected for a sportsbook just fully entering the market.
And it’s nothing compared to what Ohio sportsbooks were spending when sports betting launched in January. Even mid-tier operators like Tipico and Hard Rock Bet had promotional spends of $3.6 million and $4 million, respectively.
Fanatics’ September numbers will likely be even more impressive and better represent where it stands in the state.
Fanatics is pleased with performance so far in Ohio
Thanks to its brand recognition and quality platform, Fanatics attracted customers right out of the gate. That might not stop as it continues to add alluring features, including the ability to live stream in-market NFL games within its own app.
The company has also been finding success with its creative “jersey drop” promotion at the start of the NFL season. The promo gave new users who bet at least $50 a $150 voucher to buy a merchandise at Fanatics.com.
Fanatics also has a unique loyalty program that awards “Fan Cash” with every bet. The program gives between 1%-5% cash back, depending on the type of bet, which can be used for bonus bets or merchandise at Fanatics.com.
Fanatics Sportsbook’s Vice President of Communications, Kevin Hennessy, says the company has been happy with the sportsbook’s performance in Ohio so far.
“We are pleased with the progress we are making in Ohio,” Hennessy told PlayOhio. “We are continuing to innovate with our product offerings as you can see by being one of the first sportsbooks to offer live streaming of football games within the app thanks to our new partnership with Genius Sports. Customers are also enjoying our industry leading search functionality and our Discover page and making bets faster without a lot of endless scrolling.”
Citing strong download numbers for its sportsbook app, Hennessy says the company expects Fanatics Sportsbook to continue to do well in ensuing months as the NFL season gathers steam.
“Each week we are seeing more and more customers download the Fanatics Sportsbook,” Hennessy says. “We are the third most popular downloaded sportsbook each week and this is with a fraction of the advertising spend compared to our competition.”
Fanatics is immediately competitive with PENN, Caesars
Fanatics actually won more than Barstool Sportsbook in August. Barstool reported $1.04 million in revenue compared to Fanatics’ $1.3 million.
Barstool may be more competitive in the Ohio market by year’s end. PENN will be rebranding Barstool Sportsbook as ESPN Bet, potentially by Thanksgiving. PENN’s sportsbook could see a bump in December and beyond thanks to even bigger name recognition and likely a fresh round of new user promos.
It seems likely that Fanatics will overtake Caesars Ohio too. It might be sooner than you think.
Caesars tightly battled Barstool/PENN early on for the fifth-best performing sportsbook in the monthly reports. It managed to hold the fifth spot throughout much of the usual late spring and summertime sports betting slowdown.
But in August, as all of Ohio’s top and second-tier sportsbooks saw spikes in handle compared to July’s numbers. On the other hand, Caesars’ numbers were flat.
From July to August, bet365 saw its handle increase by 17.2%, while BetMGM’s handle grew by 15.2%. PENN announced in early August that Barstool’s name was coming off of its sports betting product, but Barstool Sportsbook still saw its handle increase 25.6% over July.
Caesars, meanwhile, saw its monthly handle go from $17.7 million in July to $17.9 million in August, for a meager 1% month-over-month increase.
If that trend continues for Caesars, Fanatics could overtake the sportsbook as soon in September. September’s revenue numbers are released at the end of October. But it almost seems like a foregone conclusion to happen by the end of the year.
With Barstool/ESPN still a wild card, if Fanatics surpasses Caesars, it would next set its sights on the leading second-tier sportsbooks, bet365 and BetMGM, setting up what should be some interesting competitive jousting in Ohio next year.