Fanatics Eyes BetParx Buy in Pursuit of Gambling Foothold

Fanatics is in talks to acquire sports gambling platform BetParx, according to someone familiar with the negotiations, in a move that could bolster the company’s soon-to-launch mobile betting operation.

Michael Rubin’s company signed a letter of intent on Friday morning, according to the person, who was granted anonymity because the details are private. The letter, often a precursor to an actual agreement, does not mean that a deal has been reached, or that one will definitely happen. It does, however, clear the way for more serious conversations about deal structure, pricing, timing and possibly some negotiating exclusivity.

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News of the BetParx letter of intent was first reported by CNBC. It’s unclear if the BetParx iGaming product would be included as well. A representative from Fanatics declined to comment; a representative for Parx Casino didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fanatics has spent the past 12 months exploring possible acquisitions to accelerate the launch of its mobile sportsbook. The company has spoken in some capacity with more than a dozen betting companies, both in the U.S. and abroad, according to people familiar with those talks.

The letter of intent was signed on the same day Fanatics opened a retail sportsbook inside the Washington Commanders stadium. It is the first retail outlet for Fanatics, and the first sportsbook inside an NFL venue. Fanatics also recently received a temporary operator’s license in Massachusetts, and has a partnership there with Plainridge Park Casino, which is owned by Penn National (Nasdaq: PENN).

Plans for the mobile sportsbook, the larger commercial opportunity, have been less clear. Rubin has said in the past that he expects to launch across the country where possible, except in New York, which has a different tax structure than most other states. The mobile product is expected to launch in the coming months.

Sports betting is one of a few new verticals for Fanatics, the world’s largest seller of licensed sports apparel, as it looks to grow into a one-stop platform for sports transactions of all types. Rubin is also standing up a new trading card unit, fueled by his $500 million acquisition of Topps, and is focusing more intently on other types of collectibles. The company recently raised money at a $31 billion valuation.

BetParx is a wholly owned subsidiary of Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment. The platform currently operates in Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The Fanatics betting operation is run by Matt King, previously CEO of FanDuel.

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