New York sports fans, get ready. Billionaire hip-hop icon Jay-Z has entered the sportsbook chat. A Jay-Z sports betting investment deal is complete.
Fanatics, the multi-billion-dollar company that has exclusive merch deals with the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and other leagues, is prepping for an entry into the N.Y. sports betting market. Over the past few months, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin has generated capital investment and hired high-profile names ahead of the launch of Fanatics Sportsbook.
Investors include rapper Jay-Z, Major League Baseball, SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund, and well-known tech investment firm SilverLake.
Jay-Z Named Vice Chair; Rubin raises $300+ million
The Jay-Z sports betting marriage doesn’t just make Shawn Carter a silent partner either. Rubin added Jay-Z as the vice chairman of Fanatics Betting and Gaming. The legendary New York native’s name recognition will no doubt help Fanatics gain traction in a forthcoming online sports betting market that will likely include heavy hitters DraftKings and FanDuel.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Rubin said the company’s existing structure puts it in an excellent position to launch an online sports betting platform.
“We think we have a structural advantage to building any digital sports business, and online sports betting is no different,” Rubin said.
Rubin’s confidence may have as much to do with the money he’s raised and the talent he’s hired as the structure of his current business.
Over the past few months, Fanatics raised $325 million and has hired several key players:
- Former IAC CFO Glenn Schiffman
- Former Los Angeles Dodgers President Tucker Kain
- Former FanDuel CEO Matt King
Fanatics Sportsbook application sent to New York Gaming Commission
Retail (in-person) sports betting has been legal in New York since 2019 it wasn’t until this past April that the state approved the regulatory framework for mobile sports betting.
Fanatics Sportsbook is one of several companies that has submitted an application for a $25 million sports betting license.
The company’s paperwork includes a wealth of information, much of which is redacted. The company’s “Directors and Officers” document includes a list of the following names:
- Michael Rubin
- Glenn Schiffman
- Tucker Kain
- Matthew Kain
- Aron Borod
- Scot McClintic
While Jay-Z’s name (Shawn Carter) is not listed on the Director’s and Officers page, it is listed in subsequent bios provided by Fanatics Sportsbook. Only Carter, Rubin, and Schiffman’s bios are unredacted.
Sports betting application cites five competitive advantages
Rubin’s claim that the company has the existing infrastructure to succeed in sports betting is something the company emphasized in its New York Gaming Commission Application. The company listed five competitive marketing advantages:
- A robust database of sports consumers
- A well-established brand with far-reaching digital and retail assets
- An aggressive budget and acquisition model
- A multi-platform retention program
- Strategic marketing partnerships
Fanatics notes they will partner with Kambi to offer bets on every sporting event that’s legal in the state.
The application also notes the importance of its partnership with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.
“Fanatic[s] Sportsbook’s partnership with Roc Nation gives it the ability to reach new audiences as well as the tools to amplify its own marketing messages and consumer experiences, thus bringing new customers into the New York online betting revenue stream and keeping them there through superior engagement opportunities.”
The application does not provide specifics about those opportunities, nor does it note any promotions it plans to run when it launches.