Hot copy: Stories that caught our eye this week from around the sector

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Fanatics’ sports betting fantasy about to become reality  

This week’s edition of hot copy, perhaps unsurprisingly, focuses on the US sports betting market. The leading operators in the space might soon have one more company to compete with according to Sports Business Journal, which suggests that merchandising behemoth Fanatics could enter the arena by acquiring a major international gambling operator.

We already know that Fanatics, which is valued at $18bn, is interested in launching a sports betting offering to its database of more than 83 million users having previously registered a trademark to launch a Fanatics-branded sportsbook.

That strategy looks like being accelerated via M&A, but Fanatics chairman Michael Rubin told respected reporter Terry Lefton that US operators don’t interest him due to the fact they are burning through cash and racking up losses.

According to the piece, Rubin genuinely believes Fanatics can be the number one business in global online gambling within just 10 years, but which company will help it fast-track to achieve that goal? Have your say in our LinkedIn poll!

 If you can’t take the heat, get out the kitchen

While US operators prepare to face stiff competition from deep-pocketed Fanatics, one company that won’t be stealing market share any time soon is Churchill Downs.

In a Thursday conference call covered by Bloomberg, the racetrack and casino operator announced it would pull the plug on its online sports betting and iGaming business, with the last digital light scheduled to go out around six months from now.

Explaining the decision, CEO William Carstanjen said: “Many are pursuing maximum market share in every state with limited regard for short-term or potentially even long-term profitability.”

The operator remains committed to its online TwinSpires horseracing operation, however.

With Wynn reportedly looking to offload its online division and Caesars pledging to “dramatically curtail” digital marketing activity, Churchill Downs may not be the last operator to wave the white flag on online sports betting as costs continue to skyrocket.

A sports betting “special relationship”

This week’s round-up ends with a Sunday Times long-read on the UK bookmakers taking the US market by storm, where Flutter, Entain, 888 and William Hill all get a mention.

The story narrows in on the Super Bowl and has some great colour on the stark contrast between a sleepy William Hill betting shop in Exeter, draped in red and blue colours, and 888’s Succession-style Super Bowl party, where guests including Leonardo DiCaprio and Jeff Bezos were treated to a DJ set by Goldman Sachs boss David Solomons courtesy of JV partner Sports Illustrated. I know which bash I’d rather be at.

Featuring comments from former William Hill US CEO and current IGT sports betting president Joe Asher, FanDuel CMO Mike Raffensperger and BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt, this piece is well worth two minutes of your time.

About the author

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Jake Evans

Jake Evans is an NCTJ-accredited journalist and editor who has covered the online gaming and sports betting industry since 2017. He is the managing editor of iGaming NEXT and has previously worked in both content and data for EGR, Stats Perform and Football Radar.

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