Jay-Z Joins New York Sports Gambling Bid Alongside Fanatics
(Bloomberg) -- Jay-Z wants in on the action in his hometown.
The rapper and founder of entertainment company Roc Nation LLC has joined sports-merchandise giant Fanatics Inc. in a bid to get into the mobile sports betting business in New York as the state opens its lucrative market, two people familiar with the matter said.
He’ll also be part of Fanatics Betting & Gaming’s new board of directors, serving as vice chairman, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the details.
Representatives from Fanatics and Roc Nation declined to comment on the moves.
Sports betting is a high priority for Fanatics, which is undergoing a reorganization under Michael Rubin, the founder and executive chairman now taking over as chief executive. He’s looking to expand beyond the core business of selling sports apparel and collectibles and has brought on executives to spearhead entry into new industries such as gambling, ticketing and media.
Fanatics Sportsbook will be run by Matt King, the former FanDuel Inc. CEO hired away by Rubin earlier this year. Management plans to use Jay-Z and Roc Nation to “help attract new customers, engage existing sports bettors and expand the overall footprint of the Fanatics sportsbook,” according to a filing with New York’s gaming commission.
Jay-Z has entered many different business ventures in recent years, with forays into categories such as fintech, cannabis and fitness. In February, LVMH acquired 50% of his champagne brand Armand de Brignac for an undisclosed sum. He’s also on the board of Square Inc.
This month, he was part of a $325 million funding round for Fanatics, alongside investors including SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund and Major League Baseball, valuing the business at $18 billion.
The “Empire State of Mind” rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, was born and raised in Brooklyn and has been involved in many New York-based ventures, including his Roc Nation business that’s headquartered in Manhattan.
New York officials requested applications from sports-gambling companies in July. At this stage, several applicants are seeking approval by the state’s gaming commission, which is expected to make its selections later this year.
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