Fanatics Gets Approval for License as Maryland Sports Betting Operator

Fanatics Gets Approval for License as Maryland Sports Betting Operator
By Lou Monaco
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

The state Lottery and Gaming Control Commission  granted a Maryland sports betting facility operator license to Fanatics during its June monthly meeting on Thursday.

The license for FBG Enterprises Opco, LLC, doing business as Fanatics, was approved by a voice vote of the commission. A future site was not announced.

It is the first time Fanatics has been granted a sports wagering license.

The commission performed a detailed analysis of Fanatics Holdings Inc. from Dec. 31, 2017, to Dec 31, 2021. The analysis found its financial strength has improved in recent years and that the company has satisfied several criteria, including financial stability, integrity and responsibility.

“I want to thank the staff for their assistance and professionalism throughout the licensing process. They have been helpful to us at every turn,” said Alex Smith, vice president of regulatory affairs for Fanatics Betting and Gaming, who attended the meeting via Zoom call. “We are hopeful this will be our first gaming license and we are excited to reach this milestone and look forward to working with staff further over the days to come.”

CNBC reported Thursday that Fanatics is trying to acquire sports betting operator Tipico. A deal hasn't been reached, but talks are continuing, according to CNBC. Tipico holds sports betting licenses in Colorado and New Jersey.

Fanatics a Major Player in Sports Apparel

Fanatics, founded in 1995, bills itself as having the world’s largest collection of official sports apparel from the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and NCAA colleges.

Jacksonville-based Fanatics has been in the news. Its CEO, Michael Rubin, announced Wednesday that he’s stepping away from Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, and is selling his 10% equity stake.

In March, Fanatics announced it will be opening a mammoth 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Aberdeen (Harford County). The facility would create 135 full-time jobs in Maryland and give the company improved distribution on the East Coast.

Where Online Sports Betting Stands in Maryland

Retail wagering has been in place in Maryland since December 2021 after passing in a 2020 ballot measure.

Retail sportsbooks are up and running at five casinos: Live! Casino & Hotel (Hanover), MGM National Harbor (Oxon Hill), Horseshoe Baltimore, Hollywood Perryville and Ocean Downs Casino (Berlin). Four small businesses (three off-track betting sites and a bingo facility) have been awarded licenses but aren’t taking wagers yet.

HB940 was signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan just over a year ago. The governor recently criticized the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) for what he considers the slow pace in getting mobile wagering to launch in the state..

A similar expression of frustration was made this month by casino owner David Cordish.

The road to getting sports betting apps up and running has been slowed to a degree as SWARC diligently pursues a process that is inclusive of businesses owned by women and minorities.

Hogan has been pushing to get Maryland’s mobile machinery in place for the beginning of the NFL season in September.

The state’s sports wagering law has designated 17 entities that have an inside track for “facility” licenses (retail sportsbooks) and there are an additional 30 competitive retail licenses that will be available.

On the mobile side, there are up to 60 potential licenses available. 
 
Without a July monthly meeting scheduled, the next MLGCC meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Eastern on Aug. 23.

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Contributors

<p>Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.</p>

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