Sportsbook Launch Forces Fanatics CEO To Sell NBA, NHL Stakes

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BetFanatics Sportsbook is “soon-to-launch” according to the CEO of sports apparel and memorabilia retailer Fanatics.

Michael Rubin is selling his reported 10% stake in Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment for an undisclosed price.

The price is not the most important part of the story in the US sports betting world. With the sale of his HBSE stake – which includes ownership in the NBA‘s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL‘s New Jersey Devils – BetFanatics would be clear to take bets on those teams.

Rubin cites BetFanatics for sale

Rubin took to Twitter to acknowledge the sale and mentioned multiple reasons, including sports betting.

“As our Fanatics business has grown, so too have the obstacles I have to navigate to ensure our new businesses don’t conflict with my responsibilities as part-owner of the Sixers. With the launch of our trading cards and collectibles business earlier this year – which will have individual contracts with thousands of athletes globally – and a soon-to-launch sports betting operation, these new businesses will directly conflict with the ownership rules of sports leagues.”

Coincidentally, the announcement of Rubin’s sale comes exactly one year after the NY Post reported former FanDuel CEO Matt King would head up Fanatics’ push into US sports betting.

Representatives and attorneys for Fanatics, including King, did not respond to LSR requests for comment.

Why did Rubin have to sell?

Rubin either had the option to ban bets on the Devils and 76ers or sell his stake. State laws and gambling regulations typically ban owners from accepting bets on their own teams.

New Jersey originally had an even stronger ban. The state banned any team owner from accepting bets on that league entirely.

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta was banned from accepting NBA bets in New Jersey for more than a year before the law was changed. Now, anyone with at least 10% ownership of a sports team in New Jersey can accept bets on any team but their own.

Not much news since King’s appointment to Fanatics

Fanatics has been tied to two important sports betting states in California and New York. So far, though, very few details have emerged about its plans.

Fanatics had a joint bid with Penn National‘s Barstool Sportsbook to launch mobile NY sportsbooks, but the bid did not score high enough to be considered.

The company is also involved in the proposal to legalize online sports betting in California. That is despite not meeting the requirements to launch, which includes being licensed in 10 states.

Who is working with Fanatics?

Fanatics, which registered the BetFanatics trademark in May, has not said whom it is working with on the sportsbook.

Industry sources confirmed to LSR the brand is building its own platform on Amelco‘s source code. The reports were denied by Fanatics though.

Sources told LSR the deal could be worth $100 million over its lifetime. It includes access to player account management (PAM) and a sportsbook engine.