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Fanatics has recruited one of the UK’s leading trading directors as it gears up for its US sports betting launch.

The merchandising giant has hired former Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG) executive Andy Wright to lead its trading arm as SVP of trading.

Wright spent more than seven years with Leeds-based SBG. He joined the operator in 2014 from Sporting Index as head of football trading and rose through the ranks to become trading director in 2018.

At the beginning of 2022, Wright started a new job as trading director for Africa-based KingMakers, the sport and digital entertainment company behind the BetKing brand.

However, iGaming NEXT understands he exited the firm after less than six months as the opportunity to join the newly formed betting and gaming team at Fanatics was simply too good to turn down.

Wright served his last day at KingMakers on Friday 29 April and will start at Fanatics on Wednesday 4 May.

He will report into Fanatics betting and gaming CEO Matt King (pictured), who took charge of the company’s gambling vision after quitting FanDuel for the role in the summer of 2021.

Wright will work for Fanatics on a remote basis, splitting his time between Leeds (UK) and New York (US), where the firm has already laid its betting and gaming foundations.

Fanatics is yet to launch a real-money gambling product in the US but has major aspirations. Last year, it filed trademarks for a casino, sportsbook and mobile betting app.

The company has built a business selling sports apparel and merchandise. It has also launched a high-end NFT business unit called Candy Digital.

Gaming industry equity analysts have suggested Fanatics could become a major player in the US sports betting market – despite its late arrival – because it boasts an engaged user base of more than 80 million digital-savvy sports-mad customers.

The US betting podium is currently occupied by FanDuel, BetMGM and DraftKings, but could be ripe for disruption if King – who led FanDuel as CEO between 2017 and 2021 – realises his vision.

Fanatics, which has both digital and retail ambitions, is expected to invest heavily in its betting and gaming segment. The company’s careers page is currently hiring for more than 50 technology-led roles, including vice president of IT and senior director of platform product.

The tech department will be led by CTO Ian Botts, who joined Fanatics just three months ago. He served as SVP of software development under King at FanDuel.

It remains to be seen whether Fanatics will build its own sports betting technology or flex its M&A muscles to acquire the finished product.