Ohio sports betting regulators quickly put a target on a Fanatics promo offering to match customer sportsbook bonus bets for Fanatics merchandise purchases.

Jessica Franks, spokesperson for the Ohio Casino Control Commission, told Saturday Down South late Thursday afternoon that the “commission is aware of the promotion and working to get it removed.”

The promos started to attract attention on social media Wednesday.

Merchandise for bonus bets

Franks did not mention what rule or regulation Fanatics ran afoul of with the particular promotion. A request for comment from a Fanatics representative was not returned.

The particular promos were only offered to “new Fanatics Sportsbook accounts” and were limited to one per account. The promos offered to match any subtotal purchase of eligible Fanatics merchandise for a bonus bet to use in the sportsbook.

Fanatics Betting and Gaming CEO Matt King said at a keynote session during last week’s SBC Summit North America that customers shopping at Fanatics would begin seeing offers to try out Fanatics Sportsbook. King also noted that Fanatics Sportsbook users could potentially be sent signed player jerseys or other pieces of merchandise based on particular player prop wagers they make on the platform.

It’s a low cost strategy for Fanatics to retain users, he said.

Fanatics has always planned to leverage its dominance in the sports merchandise and apparel market to close the gap with the top performers in the sports betting market. Fanatics has a database of 95 million customers and will offer  a percentage of “FanCash” for Fanatics Sportsbook users for each bet they place on the platform. Additionally, customers who buy merchandise or sports apparel on the Fanatics site will receive “FanCash” that can also be used for bonus bets in the Fanatics Sportsbook.

PointsBet acquisition on the way

Even with the ban of the promotion in Ohio, Fanatics is still on its way to becoming a major player in the sports betting market. Fanatics Betting and Gaming announced last Sunday that it entered into an agreement to acquire PointsBet’s U.S. assets for $150 million.

Through the deal, PointsBet will be able to keep its Australian and Canadian based assets. Rumors of a potential deal between the two companies began to swirl last week and eyebrows were raised when PointsBet CEO Johnny Aitken suddenly cancelled a keynote discussion at SBC Summit North America.

PointsBet shareholders will vote on the acquisition during its June 2023 shareholder meeting.

PointsBet will retain its proprietary iGaming, sports betting, and racing platform in the deal.

“Fanatics and PointsBet are excited to enter into an agreement for Fanatics Betting and Gaming to acquire PointsBet’s U.S. business. 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 week,” the companies announced in a joint statement Sunday night.

The timeline for the full acquisition extends into 2024, according to an announcement from PointsBet.

The proposed transaction will be divided into two stages. The initial completion is expected to happen by Aug. 31, 2023, with Fanatics Betting and Gaming acquiring the entities that own and operate PointsBets business in at least three states. PointsBet will hand over access to three more states on a rolling basis until all U.S. entities are acquired by Fanatics Betting and Gaming by May 2024 at the latest.

PointsBet has U.S. market access in 14 states, including New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Fanatics Betting and Gaming are currently operational in Ohio and Tennessee, just completing beta testing last week, and have plans to be live in Massachusetts and Maryland by mid-June.