Fanatics receive green light for sports betting in Maryland
Maryland residents can now look forward to more sports wagering options. This is thanks to Fanatics’ entering the market. Fanatics is a renowned sports merchandise retailer called BetFanatics.
The company has now received approval for a MD sports betting facility operator license. It is the first company to be granted a license since online sports betting became legal in Maryland in June 2022.
FBG Enterprises Opco, LLC does business as Fanatics. It was granted the license at the monthly Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCA) meeting. The company received approval through a voice vote on June 23, 2022.
Alex Smith, the VP of regulatory affairs for Fanatics Betting and Gaming, thanked the Commission staff for their assistance throughout the licensing process.
Actions Taken To Establish Fanatics’ Suitability
The MLGCA took various steps to determine the online retailer’s license approval suitability. This is a process that investigated their affairs. They looked back to 2017 and continued for the next four years until December 2021.
Fanatics had to provide detailed company information. This information included its business structure, finances, and how it operates. During their investigation, the commission looked into areas such as:
- Fanatics’ liabilities and assets
- Ownership interests
- Contracts with various government bodies
- Regulatory history
The MLGCA investigated the company’s capacity to follow the license’s applicable obligations. But it did not limit the compliance history to gaming. The state commission also checked for any pending litigation against Fanatics. They also extended it to all of its affiliates.
Fanatics In Talks To Buy Tipico
It was announced on June 23, that Fanatics is in talks to buy the sportsbook Tipico. The deal with this established sports betting operator is still under negotiation.
However, if it were to go through, the deal would give Fanatics access to Tipico’s licenses. These licenses include the ability to offer retail, a mobile sports betting app in Maryland and in multiple other states. Tipico holds gambling licenses in New Jersey and Colorado.
Partly in order to fund this deal, Michael Rubin, Fanatics CEO, has decided to sell some of his interests. He plans to sell his 10% equity share in the New Jersey Devils and the Philidelphia 49ers.
Other Advances For Fanatics’ Sports Apparel Business
At the start of summer, Fanatics revealed some of its plans for this year. This includes the opening of a distribution center in Hartford County.
The business will cover an impressive 500,000 square feet. Additionally, it will create 100+ jobs. This will help to improve its distribution numbers across the East Coast.
The Aberdeen facility will add to the services the sports retailer already offers. It will allow the company to access one-third of the population of the USA, in an overnight drive. Also, it gives Fanatics easy access to BWI and the Port of Baltimore airports. This will increase their global reach.
Over the past year, Hartford County has been involved in several major distribution and logistics projects. Therefore, they have the knowledge and expertise to assist Fanatics with its center. Indeed, if Fanatics wishes to expand further, Hartford County has the capacity to meet its needs.
The Current Status Of Retail Sports Betting In Maryland
Legislators in Maryland approved sports betting for its residents in late 2021. The vote allowed operators to offer this gambling option at retail locations. The venues currently providing land-based betting options to Maryland sports fans are:
- Live! Casino & Hotel (Hanover)
- MGM National Harbor
- Hollywood Perryville
- Horseshoe Baltimore
- Ocean Downs Casino
Online Sports Betting In Maryland
Unfortunately, the progress of online legislation has not been as speedy as the retail equivalent. In fact, there have been a few expressions of frustration at the pace over the past few months.
Gov. Larry Hogan has criticized SWARC for the lack of progress. David Cordish the Live! Casino and Hotel owner, echoed Larry Hogan’s frustration. In fact, he was so pessimistic about the online licenses that he said it wasn’t something he was thinking about.
The picture is not all negative, though. One of the main reasons that the process has taken so long is that SWARC is being very diligent about diversity. They are considering each application carefully to check for their inclusion of women and minorities.
SWARC requires applicants to make good faith efforts to interview and recruit these groups. Therefore, SWARC has to wait for each applicant to provide clear evidence of their efforts on this front.
Another issue that is delaying a launch date is the volume of applicants. There are 50 + applications outstanding, therefore SWARC requires more time to scrutinize each application.
This is a list of mobile sports betting apps in Maryland that we think might go live when the time comes:
The news that SWAC has granted Fanatics their license is excellent news, not only for them but for everyone involved. It means that they have been able to complete all the application steps correctly. Other applicants can use their experience to push their own applications forward.
It does look unlikely that online sports betting will be up and running for the start of the NFL season in September, however. This will disappoint many fans, but hopefully, they won’t have to wait much longer.