Michael Rubin arrives at the 2019 Fanatics Super Bowl Party on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in Atlanta.
Paul R. Giunta | Invision | AP
Fanatics, the sports merchandising company, is in talks to acquire sports betting company Tipico, according to two people familiar with the matter.
A deal hasn't yet been reached, and the two sides are currently at an impasse on price, though talks are ongoing, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.
Tipico has a small U.S. sports gambling business, with licenses in New Jersey and Colorado, but is the leading sports betting provider in Germany, according to its website.
Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin announced Wednesday he's selling his 10% share in Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment, which owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, clearing the way for Fanatics to enter the gambling arena. National Basketball Association rules don't allow owners to operate a gambling platform.
Fanatics has completed several acquisitions in recent years as a closely-held company. In 2020, it acquired sports merchandise manufacturer WinCraft, and earlier this year it bought trading card company Topps for $500 million. Fanatics has a private valuation of $27 billion.
"As our Fanatics business has grown, so too have the obstacles I have to navigate to ensure our new business don't conflict with my responsibilities as part-owner of the Sixers," Rubin said in a statement posted on Twitter Wednesday announcing the sale of his 76ers stake. "With the launch of our trading cards and collectibles business earlier this year — which will have individual contracts with thousands of athletes globally — and a soon-to-launch sports betting operation, these new businesses will directly conflict with the ownership rules of sports leagues. Given these realities, I will sadly be selling my stake in the Sixers and shifting from part-owner back to life-long fan."
Rubin hasn't been shy about his desire to enter the sports gambling industry.
"We can be the No. 1 player in the world in that business in 10 years," Rubin told Sports Business Journal earlier this year. "That does seem ambitious for someone who's not in the business today, but our strategic advantages are that we are one of the best-known digital sports brands and we touch so many fans."
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.
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