LiveScore’s Sam Sadi predicts Fanatics will reign supreme over ESPN BET

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LiveScore Group CEO Sam Sadi has outlined his belief that Fanatics Sportsbook has a bigger chance of winning in the US sports betting market compared to its fellow challenger brand ESPN BET

Speaking at a fireside chat at a recent XtremePush event in London, Sadi explained that the Fanatics Sportsbook team has a more varied experience in the business and this, alongside Penn Entertainment’s legacy problems with the Barstool Sportsbook brand, will help it to come out on top. 

ESPN BET is set to launch in 17 states on November 14 while Fanatics Sportsbook has been rolling out its product in stages throughout 2023. Buoyed by the acquisition of Pointsbet US, Fanatics is live in 14 states, though in several states in which the switchover is yet to be completed, is branded PointsBet, A Fanatics Experience.

“Fanatics has the better chance of winning,” said Sadi, in a fireside chat with Xtremepush CEO Tommy Kearns at London’s Southbank Centre. “ESPN Bet probably won’t, unless they realise the full difficulties they face with Barstool, they understand what’s missing, they’re patient and they invest a lot in technology.

“Why should Fanatics win? Because they already understand it. A lot of their executives, management and engineering team come from Sky Bet. They know what it takes to build a world-class sportsbook and they know that convergence is difficult. They’re willing to be patient and construct an entire ecosystem piece by piece, with every component being best-in-class.”

ESPN BET is attempting to follow in the successful footsteps of Sky Bet, a Flutter Entertainment brand in the UK that integrated the Sky Sports media brand and some of its top pundits and personalities within a sportsbook’s platform. 

Penn is attempting to recreate that success in the US after the Barstool venture failed to fully capture the imagination of US bettors and Flutter’s FOX BET venture also died in August. 

The ESPN brand will use stars such as Scott van Pelt and integrate odds into live broadcasts to synergize the authentic ESPN sports brand and Penn’s proprietary tech stack. 

Meanwhile, Fanatics is leveraging its strong position in the sports apparel and ecommerce industries to propel its sportsbook venture. With a database of 95 million, Fanatics has offered free NFL jerseys to bettors. 

However, according to Sadi, the technology that underpins the sportsbook must be strong as user experience can outweigh brand star power. 

He added: “A lot of technology resources today are spent on remaining compliant,” he said. “We are in an over-regulated industry where margins have been eroded, meaning companies can’t invest as much in innovation.

“Just as we have done, you are looking for alternative strategies and inefficiencies in the ecosystem of sports content and media. If you include this in a fully owned ecosystem, there is margin for improvement. This is the part of the experience where you can start innovating and investing, as opposed to within a sportsbook where you can’t make as much of a difference.”

In a recent iGaming Daily episode, the SBC Americas team discussed the imminent ESPN BET launch and dissected how the partnership between Penn and ESPN will work operationally and from a regulatory perspective.