Fanatics CEO Preaches Patience As Sports Betting Operation Slowly Takes Shape

Written By Mike Mazzeo on August 30, 2022
Michael Rubin Fanatics

Fanatics hasn’t made much of a dent in the sports betting space, but CEO Michael Rubin intends for that to change. 

“I think we’re in the second or third inning of sports gambling,” Rubin said on Colin Cowherd’s podcast.

Since failing to secure a New York sports betting license during the state’s competitive bidding process, BetFanatics has been ramping up operations. BetFanatics is currently looking to hire more than 60 employees, though it remains unclear how its online operation will run.   

“I think 10 years from now sports gambling is completely mainstream in most places in North America,” Rubin said, preaching patience. “I think the experience will also be demonstrably better. 

“… So for us, we don’t worry about how things start, we worry about how they finish. … We’re going to make sure to create the best product for sports fans, the best experience, and we have huge strategic advantages.” 

Why Rubin thinks Fanatics is well-positioned

Rubin believes that advantage comes from a database of 100 million sports fans who already use Fanatics. He intends to create an all-encompassing app for sports fans that includes live games, betting, retail, NFTs, collectibles and tickets. 

Still, like Barstool Sports, Fanatics likely faces a daunting challenge in trying to compete with established industry leaders like FanDuel and DraftKings. 

“We really want to give the sports fan everything they want digitally in one place,” Rubin said. “I think that’s a massive opportunity.” 

Rubin sold his stake in the parent company that owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils because of a conflict of interest with his Fanatics’ endeavors. Fanatics has endorsement deals on the collectibles side with 1,000s of individual athletes, and plans to take bets on the Sixers later this year. 

“It was great when it wasn’t a conflict, but when I saw it was holding back Fanatics it was immediately an easy decision for me to reach,” Rubin said. 

Fanatics’ future taking shape

Fanatics is presumed to have retail sportsbooks in Maryland (FedEx Field) and Ohio (Nationwide Arena). 

It also still has intentions of getting back into The Big Apple, and has lobbied for a reduction of NY’s 51% tax rate for online sports betting. It also has contributed significantly to the ballot proposal for California online sports betting, while recently making its interest in obtaining a license in Massachusetts sports betting known to the state gaming commission. 

BetFanatics is led by former FanDuel CEO Matt King and former Action Network COO Ari Borod. 

Cowherd asked Rubin if he’d ever thought of selling his sports retail empire. “We’re just starting,” Rubin said. “Fanatics is in the first quarter of the game. I think we have so much potential and room for improvement.” 

Photo by Matt Slocum / The Associated Press
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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is a reporter for Legal Sports Report, arriving after covering several of New York’s professional sports teams in a variety of roles for the past decade. Previously, he served as a beat writer and columnist covering the Brooklyn Nets (ESPN) and New York Yankees (New York Daily News). Mike also covered both the MLB and NBA nationally for Yahoo Sports. In addition, he served as a general assignment reporter for ESPNNewYork.com. He has also had bylines in the New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, Forbes and The Ringer.

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