Fanatics Presents Sports-Betting Plan To Massachusetts Regulators

January 6, 2023
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Details about the forthcoming sportsbook operation of sports retailer Fanatics have been sparse to date, but some information has finally trickled out this week through public presentations in Massachusetts.

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Details about the forthcoming sportsbook operation of sports retailer Fanatics have been sparse to date, but some information has finally trickled out this week through public presentations in Massachusetts.

Fanatics made multiple days of presentations before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) in pursuit of an online sports-betting license that would be tethered to Penn Entertainment’s Plainridge Park Casino.

The sports retail giant has already received licenses in both Maryland and Ohio, but has yet to launch despite both states being up and running with multiple operators.

Fanatics Betting and Gaming CEO Matt King said the company expects to launch its product in the first quarter of 2023 and intends to be in “largely all major markets” by September 2023, adding that he would expect to launch in Massachusetts closer to the state’s start date for mobile betting, which is currently set to be in March.

“We believe that Fanatics Betting and Gaming will play the role of innovator in the sports-betting market,” King told the Massachusetts commission on Thursday (January 5).

“If you look at how the category is shaped today, it is largely shaped by people that were really day one operators … but when we think about digital markets, innovation is incredibly important and new entrants are incredibly important to driving innovation for those digital markets,” he continued.

“And we believe that we are an innovator that has a strong chance of being successful in the category.”

The former FanDuel boss said that being a relatively late entrant to the game with an executive team that has prior experience in the sports-betting industry can help shape an improved customer experience.

The company's sportsbook technology will be powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and use source code from Amelco, confirming a long-standing rumor in the industry regarding the Fanatics platform.

“From the ground up one of the luxuries that we've had as being a second mover in the categories, you know, we can have the benefit of hindsight and what works and what didn't work from all of our previous experiences, and that's led us first and foremost to build a product that can scale that creates a resilient and scalable business that is powered by AWS, to the extent that using cloud infrastructure is possible,” King said.

“This is important from a consumer experience perspective, because one of the things that's been most frustrating to consumers in the first wave of sports betting rollouts has been stability and so by engineering the platform from day one to be built for scale, we believe that we can create a platform that's the most stable in the industry.”

Scot McClintic, chief product officer, said the Amelco software will be used for the player account management and sports wagering systems, although the company has made some customizations.

“We are 'Fanaticizing' it, if you will, we are making that system work with some specific use cases that we have to bring that world class experience to our customers,” McClintic said.

McClintic added that the company will utilize GeoComply’s geolocation services, customer identity verification from Socure, and payment processing from Paysafe.

The company declined to show the product demonstration publicly, however, deeming it a trade secret that required an executive session to display to commissioners on Thursday.

During Thursday’s hearing, commissioners began to question King and other executives on a variety of issues, including whether Fanatics would use the term “risk-free” in bonus promotions.

“I know that there's been … the movement amongst the top tier operators to move away from the term risk-free as part of the marketing materials,” King said, referencing recent changes to promotional language made by FanDuel, among other operators.

“We would look at applying whatever is perceived to be the highest standard amongst the industry [with] our promotions in terms of transparency and simplicity to all of our promotions.”

The commission will continue Fanatics’ suitability review during meetings on January 11 and January 12 but will also begin hearings Friday (January 6) on untethered mobile applicants that are scheduled to run almost daily through January 20.

Those applicants for untethered licenses include FanDuel, DraftKings, PointsBet, Betr, Betway, and Bally’s Corp.

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