The Fanatics Sportsbook app first launched on March 2 in Tennessee and, as of the start of NFL season, was live in three additional states: Ohio, Massachusetts, and Maryland.
None of those four states has legalized online casino, so there’s no urgent rush just yet to get Fanatics Casino up and running. But iCasino is a priority for the operator, and the goal is to launch it in some of the legal online casino states by the end of 2023, Fanatics Betting & Gaming Chief Business Officer Ari Borod explained to US Bets on the latest episode of the Gamble On podcast.
“I think we should have our iCasino product live by the end of the year. But if we don’t feel it’s perfect yet, then it will be live at the beginning of next year,” Borod said. “We have the same commitment to improving the product on the casino side as we do in sports.”
When it came to launching its mobile sportsbook, Fanatics took a very deliberate approach, beta testing it with limited availability to customers for an extended period before cutting the digital ribbon and allowing access statewide. So the implication in Borod’s statement is that a similar approach, complete with beta testing, is likely when Fanatics begins to roll out its iCasino app.
Have to ‘give the customer what they want’
Long before his company entered the gambling space, Fanatics founder Michael Rubin established the brand as a sports apparel and merchandise retailer. So even though online casino is a more lucrative prospect than sports betting in the states where it’s allowed, that sports industry background has dictated Fanatics’ priorities so far.
“Fanatics is really a sports business,” Borod said. “And so first and foremost, that is what we’re going out with. … But longer term, as a gaming company, iCasino obviously is a very good business.
“Also, if there are people who want to play online blackjack on their phone, we don’t want them going to a competitor to do it, because we want them to continue engaging with Fanatics. So we’re obviously going to have to have that, to give the customer what they want. It’s definitely a part of the strategy.”
In the spring, Fanatics acquired the U.S. assets of the Australian-based operator PointsBet, and it has engaged in a gradual rebrand on the sportsbook side since then.
Only six states have launched regulated iCasino in the decade since it became an option to do so, and PointsBet Casino is live in four of those: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia. The licensing transfer processes vary from state to state, but over the next several months, Fanatics should be positioned to offer iCasino in each of those states.
However, as Borod said, the product will not be rushed to market. It’s too late for Fanatics to be the first, so instead the company’s aim is to be the best.
“I don’t think there’s been enough innovation on the casino side,” Borod opined. “So we are working hard at that as well.”
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