New York, NY. – December 7th. Portrait for a profile about Fanatics Founder and CEO Michael Rubin in his office in downtown NYC.
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According to people familiar with the matter, Fanatics is in talks to acquire BetParx sportsbook as the sports merchandising company aims to take a bigger position in sports betting.
No agreement was reached, though Fanatics signed a letter of intent to buy the sportsbook, people said, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. A deal price has yet to be revealed and the talks may not result in an agreement, the people added.
Fanatics and BetParx representatives declined to comment.
The BetParx app was launched last year by Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment, the parent company of Parx Casino in Pennsylvania, and Playtech, an online gaming software provider. BetParx is also available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio.
Fanatics has considered an IPO, but has been trying to complete a gaming-related acquisition among other potential deals before going public, people said.
The company would enter a crowded market. Dozens of sportsbooks have sprung up in recent years, including Flutter-owned FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, and BetMGM, which is jointly owned by MGM Resorts and Entain. As the place has become increasingly competitive, smaller players have struggled, with some, like MaximBet, having recently ceased operations.
Fanatics has been looking for a deal in the sports betting space for some time. Last year there were talks with the small gaming provider Tipico, as CNBC previously reported.
The company opens Fanatics Sportsbook at FedExField, home of the NFL’s Washington Commanders. Fanatics also said it has received a temporary license to operate in Massachusetts and plans to partner with Plainridge Park Casino, which is owned by Penn National.
In October, Fanatics announced it had hired Andrea Ellis as the chief financial officer of its betting and gaming division.
Last year, billionaire Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin sold his 10% stake in Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment, owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, allowing Fanatics to enter the gaming space. NBA rules prohibit team owners from operating a gambling platform.
Fanatics raised $700 million in capital late last year, which the company intended to use for potential mergers and acquisitions in the collectibles, betting and gaming sectors, CNBC previously reported.
The new round of funding brought Fanatics’ valuation to $31 billion.
Rubin’s company has grown rapidly recently, pushing itself beyond just an online sporting goods store. The company estimates that its revenue for Fanatics, including its Lids segment, will be approximately $8 billion in 2023.
The company has grown through acquisitions. Last year, it expanded its presence in the collectors business with a $500 million acquisition of Topps. It also bought the clothing brand Mitchell & Ness in partnership with LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
– CNBC’s Jessica Golden contributed to this article.