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Rubin parts with franchises

Michael Rubin, the CEO of Fanatics, has announced he will be selling his stake in Harris, Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which effectively means he is no longer part-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils.

decision comes from a direct conflict of interest

According to a statement released Wednesday, Rubin is cutting ownership ties with the two franchises in order to pursue the sports betting growth of his Fanatics brand. Via Twitter, Rubin added that his decision comes from a direct conflict of interest between the Fanatics business and ownership rules of US sports leagues:

According to Boardroom, the 10% stake Rubin is offloading will net him around $300m.

A clash of league ownership rules and implications for Fanatics’ player partnerships meant Rubin couldn’t run a gambling firm and own part of a sports franchise at the same time. Offloading part ownership of the franchises frees Rubin up to expand his merchandising and trading card firm Fanatics into sports gambling and NFTs.

A lifelong 76ers fan, Rubin grew up and lives in Philadelphia and became a part-owner of the NBA franchise 11 years ago.

Long-term vision

In a statement on Wednesday, Rubin talked up the launch of Fanatics trading cards and collectibles earlier in 2022, saying the division would have individual contracts with thousands of athletes globally. He also said the Fanatics sports betting platform was also about to launch.

“Given these realities, I will sadly be selling my stake in the Sixers and shifting from part-owner back to life-long fan,” he said.

Fanatics started life as a sportswear firm and has built business relationships with the four major US sports leagues. In March, it raised $1.5bn at a $27bn valuation. Also that month, Rubin’s firm bought collectibles enterprise Topps for $500m, which sits alongside Fanatics’ digital collectible company, Candy Digital.

Rubin told Yahoo Finance in February that iGaming and online sports wagering was, for Fanatics, a “very significant business long-term.”

wants Fanatics to “be the No.1 player in the world long term”

Rubin went so far as to say that he wants Fanatics to “be the No.1 player in the world long term.” Ten years from now, Rubin said, he’d feel disappointed if his brand “weren’t the top player in the world, both in online sports betting, iGaming.”

Maryland calling

Rubin’s announcement is timely on the sports betting front. News emerged Wednesday of the expectation that the Maryland Lottery and Gaming (MLG) Commission expects to qualify Fanatics to operate a retail sportsbook in the state.

Under Maryland laws, in order for Fanatics to operate a retail sportsbook in the state, it will need to partner with a licensed sports betting venue.

News sources say they expect the MLG to also reveal Fanatics’ retail sports betting partner on Thursday. Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review (SWARC) has already approved several venues for sports wagering.

Seven sportsbooks, from Draftkings to Caesars, have already inked partnerships with retail venues for sports betting. Off-track betting sites Long Shot’s in Frederick and Greenmount Station in Hampstead have gotten licenses, but have yet to launch or announce a partner. Additionally, the home stadiums of the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Orioles, and Washington Commanders can host sportsbooks.

When given the nod by the MLG, Fanatics would be the eighth sportsbook approved to operate in Maryland.

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