Fanatics, best known for being the largest supplier of officially licensed sports apparel, has filed a trademark application for the brand name BETFANATICS. The filing lists the description for the brand as a “downloadable mobile application for betting and gaming” as the company appears poised to join the competitive sports betting marketplace.
Fanatics has taken their business to new heights over the past few years. They were already a huge player in the sports apparel and collectible business, but they made big waves by acquiring Topps trading cards and becoming the official trading card partner of MLB. They have also expanded into the world of sports-related NFTs. There has been much speculation that they would take the natural step of getting involved with sports betting, and with their recent trademark application it seems that the speculation is going to become a reality.
The first sign of their intentions came about a year ago, when they hired former FanDuel CEO Matt King. The company currently has 40 job openings posted that relate to a sports betting product, and with their recent round of funding taken in with a $27 billion valuation, the company has the deep pockets required to compete with the big boys in the sports betting arena. This past October they also filed for trademarks on the “Fanatics Sportsbook” and “Fanatics Casino” brand names. While the company has yet to make a formal announcement on the subject, given all the available evidence their intentions seem quite clear at this point.
With the news that Fanatics will be entering the legal sports betting industry shortly, speculation has shifted to figuring out whether they will leverage their reach to start their own product, or if they will acquire one or more of the smaller companies currently in the space. Their support and financial contribution towards a bill in California that requires operators to have an existing presence in 10 states seems to suggest that they are looking towards the acquisition route, as it would be difficult for a new entry into the market to secure that many licenses in the relatively short time frame that being among the first to market in the Golden State could require.
Their large supply of cash gives them the ability to go either route, and the current state of the market that sees the top companies dominating the market share while the smaller operators compete for scraps creates some licensed operators that very well could be interested in selling out. Rush Street and PointsBet have both been suggested as potential acquisition targets, and PlayUp and other smaller operators who have secured entry into various states could also be both available as well as attractive to the Fanatics mission.
The name “BETFANATICS” seems pretty clear cut, and it is obvious that the main focus of the new entity will be on sports betting, but the filing description contained a variety of other potential business endeavors. The description of the app said that in addition to online sports betting, the app would also be used for fantasy sports, previews, alerts, and replays of live sporting events, as well as online streaming of live sporting events. Adding a full-scale digital sports entertainment and broadcasting capability to their apparel business and a sports book would certainly make Fanatics an even more dominant force in the overall sports marketplace. Their interactive features, and the potential for partnerships as major sports leagues delve more deeply into the world of online streaming, would certainly give them a leg up as a one-stop-shop for sports enthusiasts to watch the games and bet on them at the same time with one all-inclusive app.
The sports betting market is already crowded and loaded with high profile companies. While operators like DraftKings and FanDuel are likely not afraid of competition from small startups, an organization the size of Fanatics has the potential to make significant waves among top bookmakers and disrupt the market by getting involved. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but no doubt the potential is there for their new endeavor to be exciting for sports fans everywhere.
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