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What Michael Rubin Selling Stake in 76ers & Devils Says About Future of Fanatics Sports Betting Operation

What Michael Rubin Selling Stake in 76ers & Devils Says About Future of Fanatics Sports Betting Operation article feature image
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Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Rubin

How big is Fanatics’ sports gambling operation going to be?

Apparently really big.

We watched as Fanatics made big hires, including FanDuel co-founder Matt King to head up the gambling venture and our own Ari Borod as Chief Commercial Officer. We watched as the number of job postings on the gambling side ballooned in recent weeks.

But mark down June 22, 2022 as a fundamental day in Fanatics history. It’s the day sports gambling became real for the company.

No, Fanatics didn’t buy a company, receive a license or go live anywhere as a gambling operation. But chairman Michael Rubin announced he will be selling his roughly 10 percent stake in HBSE, the holding company that owns the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils.

Why is that so important?

As far as billionaires go, there aren’t many that top the passion and enthusiasm of Rubin. Despite growing Fanatics to the business it has become, Rubin has been such a constant in the front row of Sixers games that he has a better record of showing up than almost any owner in American sports.

And not only does he show up. He screams and jumps around and enjoys every minute of being there.

That’s why Wednesday’s announcement means so much. Sure, Rubin still keeps the seats and will be there, but he’s obsessed with the business of everything.

That part — owning a piece of the sports team he grew up with — will leave a hole in his life. Not to mention sacrificing his overall goal he had of one day being the primary owner of a team; he last gave hedge fund manager David Tepper a run for his money in the bidding for the Carolina Panthers.

But, as Fanatics gets ready to make a run at becoming a sports gambling company, Rubin realized it was time to get his priorities straight. As an owner, he couldn’t have a company that takes bets on games. And, as much as he loved being an owner, the goal of being a giant in the sports betting game became a greater priority.

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