After an eight-month search, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation announced Fanatics Betting and Gaming as its newest sports betting partner. This marked the end of the search for a commercial company to run the state lottery's retail and mobile sportsbook channels. With Fanatics' introduction into the Nutmeg State, the startup bookmaker will now face off against DraftKings and FanDuel, which currently hold the lion's share of the market in the New England jurisdiction. Following Fanatics' debut, the three will hold exclusive market access in Connecticut, a state that is very close to New York City.
According to Greg Smith, president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CLC), "Fanatics is the only true sports brand in the gaming space and has established itself as an innovator in the industry. We have been impressed with the Fanatics team, their aggressive entry into the U.S. sports betting market, and we are excited to see how they redefine the sports betting customer experience here in Connecticut.”
A few weeks after Rush Street Interactive ended a ten-year partnership, the CLC started the search for a new sportsbook provider in April. The CLC announced plans to end its online and in-person sports betting arrangement with Rush Street the night before the Final Four.
Through the agreement with the Lottery, Rush Street—the parent business of Play SugarHouse Sportsbook and BetRivers—was granted access to one of the Connecticut online betting skins. But less than three years into the agreement, Rush Street walked out after defeating a slew of other elite sports betting companies, including Caesars and BetMGM. Rush Street's net gaming revenue in fiscal year 2022 came from Connecticut's retail and online sports betting markets, bringing in around $20 million. The three sportsbooks in Connecticut brought in a total of $136 million in gaming revenue last year, with Rush Street holding a roughly 15% market share.
There were hints throughout the summer that Fanatics was interested in joining the state, even though the sportsbook did not make its interest in bidding for the contract public. The CLC had originally intended to open 15 retail sportsbooks around the state.
“We are excited to be working with the CLC to bring the Fanatics Sportsbook to customers in Connecticut,” said Ari Borod, Fanatics’ chief business officer. “We are looking forward to bringing the Fanatics experience to the retail locations throughout Connecticut and more importantly, adding our innovative mobile app to the online choices available in Connecticut.”
September saw the opening of a retail sportsbook by the CLC at the XL Center in Hartford. The project was delayed for almost a year due to many supply chain problems. The $5 million sports bar and betting area has a 100-foot-long video odds board in addition to more than 80 TVs. With the introduction of a sportsbook at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Commanders, Fanatics made its debut in retail sports betting in January.
The Fanatic Sportsbook launch in Connecticut is anticipated to begin in the middle of December.