Illinois appears poised to welcome two new sportsbooks in 2023. On the weekend, Fanatics agreed to buy the U.S. operations of PointsBet for $150 million.
If both shareholders and the Illinois Gaming Board approve the deal, Fanatics could take over from PointsBet in Illinois before the start of the lucrative NFL season in September.
That’s the same time frame Circa Sportsbook is aiming for to become the eighth Illinois sportsbook. In April, the IGB approved Circa’s license. Circa told PlayIllinois it is hoping to launch in August of this year.
Fanatics would instantly become the fourth biggest Illinois sportsbook operator
Purchasing PointsBet’s US operations would allow Fanatics instant access to the 14 states where PB currently operates.
In the case of the Prairie State, that would immediately make Fanatics the fourth biggest Illinois sportsbook operator in the second most lucrative sports betting market in the country.
A PlayIllinois analysis showed 7.7% of the lifetime sports bets in Illinois have been place through PointsBet through February. That ranks PB fourth behind DraftKings (33.2%), FanDuel (27.3%) and BetRivers (16.1%).
In terms of revenue, PointsBet had 7.3% of the Illinois sports betting market, behind FanDuel (37.3%), DraftKings (26%) and BetRivers (16.6%).
And Illinois is a particularly lucrative market. In March, Illinois set an all-time sports betting record with more than $1.072 billion wagered. Illinois ranked second in March in the US in both handle and revenue and holds down second spot in both categories in year-to-date figures.
Fanatics currently operates in four states
Fanatics currently operates sportsbooks in four states: Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio and Tennessee.
Of those, PointsBet offers sports betting in Maryland and Ohio. That means the purchase would give Fanatics access to 14 US markets in total — the four it has now, plus the 12 PointsBet sites where Fanatics does not currently operate.
“Fanatics and PointsBet are excited to enter into an agreement for Fanatics Betting and Gaming to acquire PointsBet’s U.S. business,” said a press release. “While there are still several steps in the process to complete the acquisition, both parties are confident in the outcome. Fanatics Betting and Gaming and PointsBet will provide further details of the proposed deal and timely updates in the coming weeks.”
Fanatics is privately valued at $31 billion. The company has a 2023 revenue forecast of $8 billion.
PointsBet found US sports betting market tough sledding
Despite being the seventh largest US online sportsbook operator out of more than 60 licensees, PointsBet has struggled to cut into the market share held by FanDuel and DraftKings.
PointsBet has said it was not likely to have a positive cash flow in the near future. And it has said its current cash isn’t enough to push its US business to profitability.
Meanwhile, Fanatics has had tremendous success in the sports apparel and memorabilia markets. The company acquired Topps trading cards for $500 million in 2022.
Now, it is hoping to leverage that success by jumping into the sports betting market.
Illinois will be key to their plans.