HomeIllinois Sports Betting NewsWill Fanatics Enter The Illinois Sports Betting Market?

Will Fanatics Enter The Illinois Sports Betting Market?

"When will Fanatics make its move in the U.S. sports betting space?" has been a popular question among attendees of gaming industry veterans around the country for the past year or so. Now, the answer is starting to fall into place.

Image: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

That includes a May 2023 announcement by Fanatics that it was purchasing the PointsBet sportsbook brand and its betting rights for $150 million. Pending approval of the Illinois Gaming Board, Fanatics could be live with a renamed sportsbook in Illinois within a few months.

“Fanatics and PointsBet are excited to enter into an agreement for Fanatics Betting and Gaming to acquire PointsBet’s U.S. business,” the companies said in a joint statement. “While there are still several steps in the process to complete the acquisition, both parties are confident in the outcome.”

PointsBet and Fanatics both operate in Maryland, but a dozen other states where PointsBet is live become new territory for the sports merchandising and memorabilia giant.

Illinois’s Place On The U.S. Sports Betting Ladder

Of those states, Illinois ranks behind national market leader New York in betting handle – but is now outperforming other strong states such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Colorado in bids for runner-up status.

So look for Fanatics to try to maintain or improve on what was PointsBet’s status as the No. 4 betting app in Illinois out of the seven that are in operation (Circa Sports is expected to be the eighth competitor by football season).

It’s difficult to imagine any book challenging the combined sportsbook revenue of daily fantasy sports powers DraftKings and FanDuel, who share nearly 60% of the market in Illinois. But third-place BetRivers – third in March at 16% – could be a target.

Fanatics earlier this month launched “beta testing” – a final step toward regulatory approval – in both Ohio and Tennessee.

Just a month or two ago, Fanatics’ only sports betting presence in the U.S. was their retail sportsbook at the Washington Commanders’ FedEx Stadium in Maryland that launched in January.

In many states, mobile sportsbooks produce about 90% of the betting volume, with the scant remainder coming from in-person betting at retail locations like casinos or racetracks.

PointsBet Gambit, Fanatics’ Alternative

Fanatics boasts a database of almost 100 million customers who have purchased their products, while PointsBet officials have estimated that it is the seventh-largest sportsbook brand in the U.S.

The company’s roots are in Australia, easily the gambling capital of the world in terms of annual wagering per household. “Fixed odds” horse racing wagering – which unlike the traditional parimutuel system does not feature ever-changing odds right up until the start of the race – is wildly popular “Down Under.” But only one racetrack in the U.S. – Monmouth Park in New Jersey – began offering the same sort of betting.

PointsBet has offered gamblers a chance to do far more than just edge out a point-spread or over-under win in a game.

A confident bettor can se a bet per point on the final margin – so that if a wagered-on team is favored by 4 points but wins by 24 – the bettor can collect 20 times the stake.

But the downside can be equally dramatic. A more cautious bettor can cap the possible maximum win or loss at 10 times the stake, for example.

Such risky wagers don’t seem to have been as eagerly received in the U.S. market, and PointsBet – starting from the ground in that country only five years ago – was unable to find its way to profitability.

At the East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City earlier this month, Fanatics CEO Matt King said that ever since Fanatics decided to take this business route, “I’ve told the team this is a 10-year journey.”

Clearly, that journey has just begun in earnest.