Fanatics Applies for Sportsbook Trademark, Hints at Offering Online Poker & iGaming

The sports merchandiser wants to use the BetFanatics name for its branded sportsbook. Its USPTO application also mentioned “organizing and conducting” online poker tournaments.
The Fanatics logo is seen on a blue background. Fanatics' application to the USPTO indicates it will release a sportsbook under the BetFanatics brand and is also considering hosting poker tournaments.
By
May 26, 2022

Since its founding in the late ’90s, Fanatics has built itself into a major retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise. It has merchandising agreements with MLB, MLS, the NBA, the NCAA, the NFL, and the NHL. It also owns the Topps trading card company and Candy Digital, a sports collectibles company.

It’s no secret that the founder of Fanatics, billionaire CEO Michael Rubin, has always envisioned the company offering more in the sports world. Despite some degree of secrecy, plans to develop a sportsbook have been public for more than a year.

But in a surprising move, the Florida-based company last week filed a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that shows it has given some thought to offering online poker and casino gaming.

Considering the cross-marketing potential Fanatics would have from its other businesses, such a move could disrupt its more-entrenched rivals.

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What’s in Fanatics’ Trademark Application

In its May 17 trademark application to the USPTO, Fanatics said it wants to use the brand name BetFanatics for its online sportsbook.

The application shows Fanatics is considering launching at least one downloadable mobile app, but it could launch as many as three. A launch of three apps would likely be divided somewhat by vertical: one for an online sportsbook, one for online casino games and poker, and one for fantasy sports.

It’s also possible that Fanatics is planning to offer some of the products and services listed in its USPTO application, but not all of them. It could also decide not to move forward with any of its ideas, but this seems unlikely.

While Fanatics did not offer specific names for the apps it has proposed, the naming convention and product descriptions for similar apps offered by its competitors — coupled with the verbiage Fanatics used in its USPTO application — suggest the apps could be named and organized as follows:

  • BetFanatics Sportsbook — Would allow players to place wagers on sports competitions
  • BetFanatics Fantasy Sports — Would provide players with tools to manage and participate in fantasy sports leagues
  • BetFanatics Casino — An online casino app that would include online poker, plus baccarat, bingo, blackjack, craps, keno, roulette, slots, and solitaire

A long list of additional products and services were listed by the company, but it’s unclear how it would spread those features over as many as three apps.

Fanatics said it plans to offer sports programming, news, and information to players — including previews, alerts, replays, video clips of sporting competitions, and webcam feeds. It also plans to provide news and information on esports, as well as sports league player and team statistics and analysis.

The USPTO is expected to take several months to review the company’s trademark application.

“Organizing and Conducting” Poker Tournaments Mentioned

Fanatics also told the agency that it plans to “[organize and conduct] poker tournaments.”

While online poker is legal in seven US states, as a practical matter Fanatics would probably be most interested in launching a poker platform in states that have signed the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) — Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, and New Jersey. Launching in those states makes sense because it would be able to take advantage of a larger player pool and have larger prizes.

The company also mentioned offering “betting exchange services,” which sounds similar to the recently announced PokerStars Exchange, a port on the Betfair Exchange that allows PokerStars players to bet and lay odds, and gives them access to a global liquidity pool.

If Fanatics really is interested in offering online poker, an exchange wouldn’t be a big leap from there.

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Sportsbook Reportedly in Development

Fanatics has been making moves recently to help make its online sportsbook a reality.

Last June, the company lured Matt King away from his position as FanDuel CEO and brought him on board as CEO of betting and gaming. And earlier this month, Fanatics appointed marketing executives Lydia Jett and Jonathan Mildenhall to its board of directors as part of its strategy to build a platform “for online sports betting and iGaming.”

The privately-held company did not return messages seeking comment on its plans, but its decision to hire Jett and Mildenhall gives more oxygen to the idea that Fanatics is centered on cross-marketing.

On that concept, consider that Rubin told attendees of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston on March 4 that he believes Fanatics will be able to use its database of 80 million customers to leverage an online sportsbook. Its Candy and Topps businesses could also play a role in that campaign.

“The average cost to acquire a customer in online sports betting today is $500 on a good day,” Rubin said at the conference, according to CNBC. “I’d much rather look at the different places that I could acquire customers and cross-sell them into online sports betting than go out and spend $500-plus and have a multiyear payback in a highly promotional environment.”

Fanatics will still need to be licensed in a state to launch a sportsbook. It was one of several operators that applied for, but were ultimately denied, a sports betting license in New York last fall.

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