A Fanatics online casino is coming to the US eventually but isn’t ready to launch quite yet. However, Fanatics Sportsbook‘s beta test for online sports betting is underway in Tennessee and is a “first step,” according to a spokesman for the sports apparel e-tailer.
Beta tests, or “soft launches,” are regulatory steps states take to determine whether to allow an online casino, poker, or sports betting skin to launch fully. If Fanatics Sportsbook does so in Tennessee, that will be its first US online sportsbook.
However, that won’t be the only pioneering act by Fanatics Betting and Gaming (FBG), the etailer’s iGaming and sports betting division. On Jan. 20, Fanatics Sportsbook became the first legal retail sportsbook inside an NFL stadium, as well as the brand’s betting debut. Fanatics Sportsbook opened at FedExField, where the Washington Commanders play football in Maryland, near Washington, DC.
Meanwhile, FBG has been loading up its Fanatics US online casino talent bench. However, job descriptions don’t mention a skin name and only describe it as “iCasino.”
For instance, Rich Criado – vice president of FBG iCasino game development – began work in October 2022.
On LinkedIn, Criado describes his role as:
Leading the teams creating bespoke iCasino content for Fanatics Betting & Gaming.
Meanwhile, FBG Communications Vice President Kevin Hennessy told Bonus today:
We just launch[ed] a beta test for a Sportsbook app in Tennessee. That is just our first step. No news on iGaming.
First Steps Come Before Fanatics Online Casino
Online sports betting plans are clearly in the works.
Hennessy told Bonus on Jan. 20 about the Maryland launch:
The first official bet at a Fanatics Sportsbook was placed by Commanders 2022 Fan of the Year Chris Bryant. He wagered $20 @ +167 on a hometown Moneyline parlay featuring the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals to win their next matchups. Chris, a military veteran, can be found in the FedExField parking lot on game days decked out in his Hogfarmers signature look, which features burgundy-and-gold striped overalls and the notable ‘pig hardhat.’
The newly designed sportsbook is 5,000 square feet and features eight betting windows, 21 self-service betting kiosks, 2 giant LED Video Walls, 38 TV monitors, and a full-service restaurant with food options that every sports fan will enjoy.
Soon, Fanatics Sportsbook is slated to participate in Massachusetts’s March 10 sports betting launch. The site is on the Plainridge Park Casino license with Barstool Sportsbook and Casino, but Barstool Sportsbook runs the retail casino’s sportsbook.
In paperwork FBG filed by Aug. 31, 2022, with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), FBG said it applied to offer sports betting in New Jersey. Fanatics Sportsbook is also expected to launch soon in Ohio.
As of March 5, FBG’s iGaming operator license application was still pending in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, Fanatics is still advertising iCasino job openings and accumulating talent. FBG may continue to cherry-pick personnel from competing operators. Most notably, Fanatics pulled FBG CEO Matt King from FanDuel in July 2021. Hennessy moved from FanDuel to FBG in November 2022. Criado was with Carnival Corporation, known in iGaming circles for its online casino and sports betting partnership with BetMGM.
Fanatics Online Casino May Be Bigger Picture
The most recent US online casino launch happened on Feb. 7 in Michigan. Sports Illustrated: Casino debuted, using 888 technology on the Hannahville Indian Community license.
However, FBG may have bigger plans than that. Rumors abound that Fanatics may buy BetParx, which offers New Jersey and Pennsylvania gamblers online casino games and sports betting. BetParx Sportsbook is live in Ohio and says it’s coming to Maryland. PlayGunLake in Michigan uses BetParx technology for its online casino and sports betting site.
Previous rumors had Fanatics buying Tipico, which is live in casino and sportsbook form in New Jersey. Tipico Sportsbook takes bets in Colorado, Iowa, and Ohio. Plus, it may do so soon in Indiana. Tipico says it has more to offer than the average sportsbook, touting its status as a sports odds provider for USA Today.
So FBG may want more for its Fanatics online casino offering than the current picture shows.