Fanatics Acquires PointsBet’s U.S. Business, Marking Its Official Foray Into Sports Betting

Fanatics Acquires PointsBet’s U.S. Business, Marking Its Official Foray Into Sports Betting article feature image

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Fanatics. Pictured: A Fanatics logo.

Fanatics signed a deal to buy the U.S. business of Australian sportsbook PointsBet on Sunday night in an acquisition that is said to be worth $150 million, multiple sources told the Action Network.

The world's largest sports apparel and collectibles company hired FanDuel CEO Matt King nearly three years ago, but only recently entered the sports betting market by opening a Fanatics Sportsbook at FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Commanders.

The company began testing its app in Tennessee and Ohio at the beginning of the month.

PointsBet said its shareholders are expected to receive between 71 and 73 cents a share for the acquisition. PointsBet shares traded at their height of $12.69 per share in Feb. 2021 — 17 times higher than what they sold for.

Shareholders are receiving less than  they would have on PointsBet's lowest trading day in its history — 97 cents per share on March 15, 2020, when the world was about to shut down due to the pandemic.

The key to the deal will be immediate market access. Fanatics applied to get a book in New York and lost.

Getting the PointsBet skin enables them to get underway in the biggest market, which had no licenses available. It's one of the most important acquisitions for Fanatics in this deal, despite New York's less-than-friendly tax policies against sportsbooks.

New York takes 51% of all profits from sportsbooks in the state. Compare that to 10% in New Jersey or Colorado. It's resulted in reduced promotional activity in the state despite its No. 1 rank in handle and wealth.

The deal will also officially get them into the No. 2 market, New Jersey, along with others in the Top 5 including Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Crucially, Michigan had not previously been linked with Fanatics but now — through PointsBet — they're in. Michigan is one of four states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, that allow iGaming marketplaces — such as table games, slot machines, etc. — which have substantially higher margins than sports betting.

While there are plenty of professional sports bettors, for instance, there are far, far fewer professional baccarat or slot machine players.

Fanatics boasts a mailing list of 95 million people, which executives think will accelerate its brand as the company tries to come from behind and catch up with market behemoths DraftKings and FanDuel.

Although Fanatics — last said to be worth $31 billion — and its betting division have been in stealth mode, the department now has north of 200 employees and has completed a deal with a software company to manage line-making and player account management.

The book even has a promotional system set up, sources said. Users will receive 1% back for every dollar wagered on straight bets, 3% for parlays and 5% for same game parlays. That "Fan Cash" can then be used to buy gear on Fanatics.

The system is akin to ones used at DraftKings and Caesars — although at those books, you can exchange credits for straight cash.

PointsBet made a big splash in the U.S., getting into the important markets with relative speed. But Pointsbetting didn't catch on because of its high risk profile and the book was oft-criticized for its low limits and rail roading of successful gamblers.

"Despite the strategic success building a valuable asset in the US, the costs of operating in a state-by-state environment, together with the requirement to build significant scale to compete against well capitalized operators, led us to explore a number of options," said PointsBet's managing director and group CEO Sam Swanell, in a statement.

PointsBet signed a deal with NBC that guaranteed that it would spend $90 million a year on the network. When NBC did the deal with PointsBet in 2020, the business was worth $420 million.

The deal, which gave NBC an equity stake in the business, was recently renegotiated down to $58 million a year in ad buy. It also signed Drew Brees, who was an analyst on NBC, for extra synergy, but Brees was let go after only one year.

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