Fanatics founder Michael Rubin announced today he’s selling his interests in the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.
Rubin is divesting his 10% stake in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the teams, in a transaction that’s worth a reported $300 million. The move is seen as a clear sign Fanatics will pursue a sports wagering footprint. Team owners with direct interests in sports betting could run afoul of league rules.
When I was part of the ownership group that acquired the Sixers in 2011, Fanatics was just getting started with a small office in King of Prussia selling only licensed sports products online,” Rubin said in a statement posted on social media. “Today, Fanatics has quickly transformed into a global digital spots platform across multiple businesses, with more than 10,000 employees in 57 countries and serving nearly 100 million sports fans worldwide.”
Following a $1.5 billion funding round in March, Fanatics was valued at $27 billion in private markets.
Deal Fuels Fanatics Sports Wagering Speculation
Perhaps no company that isn’t already involved in the sports wagering space has been rumored to enter that arena as much as Fanatics.
Combine Rubin’s decision to part ways with Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment and recent trademark news, and that speculation is only growing. Last month, applied to trademark the term “BETFANATICS” with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). That after Fanatics filed to trademark “FANATICS SPORTSBOOK” and “FANATICS CASINO” in October 2021.
Prior to that, the Florida-based company announced the hiring of former FanDuel CEO Matt King and Tucker Kain, the former president of business enterprise for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Fanatics attempted to procure a mobile wagering license in New York, but was unsuccessful in that effort. The company counts the four major US sports leagues — Major League Baseball (MLB), the NBA, NFL and the NHL — as well as Major League Soccer (MLS) among its investors. Other investors include Silver Lake, SoftBank, BlackRock, Fidelity, and MSD Partners — an investment vehicle controlled by Dell founder Michael Dell.
More Fanatics Rumors
Entering 2022, it was believed that Fanatics could be one of the year’s most ballyhooed initial public offerings (IPO), but it’s now expected the company will remain private at least through the end of the year.
Fanatics has also been tied to multiple acquisition rumors, including PointsBet, Rush Street Interactive (NYSE:RSI), and Swedish gaming giant Betsson. But the sports apparel giant hasn’t commenced a deal. There was also speculation Rubin’s company could move on WynnBet and, more recently, Kambi, but for now, those are just rumors.
Some market observers believe that those rumors won’t materialize because Rubin prefers to build Fanatics’ sports wagering operation internally without deploying capital for acquisitions.
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