New York native and famous rap star Jay-Z has announced he plans to bid for a sportsbook license in his home state. Jay-Z, born Shawn Corey Carter, is not only a prolific musician but an experienced entrepreneur. This is just the latest in a series of ventures Carter has launched in his continued efforts to establish himself firmly as a prominent business mogul.
Jay-Z’s bid is noteworthy not only for his fame but also for the fact he is the only African-American investor present on any of the gaming license submissions. With nearly ⅕ of New York City’s population being African-American, this disparity in the diversity of sportsbook operators would be concerning.
As it stands now, Jay-Z will be going up against many of the current leaders in the sportsbook industry. These include existing sportsbooks like DraftKings, Bally Bet, Bet MGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and FanDuel. But that doesn’t worry Jay-Z, whose bid is heavily supported by citizens of New York. A source for the publication Page Six recently had this to say:
“He’s a native New Yorker, and Roc Nation is a diverse company.” the source said, “Jay-Z is New York.”
Jay-Z will launch the bid with the help of his company Roc Nation. Roc Nation LLC, an entertainment company, was founded in 2008. It houses offices in New York City, as well as London, England, and Los Angeles, California.
In 2013 Roc Nation took its first steps at entering a sports-related industry by establishing Roc Nation Sports. With this, Jay-Z and his team can represent professional athletes, prompt boxing matches, and report on sports-related news.
Besides its existing sports entertainment division, the company currently operates in a myriad of industries, including Talent Management, Clothing, Music Touring, Media Relations, and Publishing. With this move, Roc Nation will be dipping its toes into the growing industry of American Sports Betting.
New York Sports Betting, and Fanatics Inc
This news comes as New York’s sports betting is experiencing a shaky launch, with legislators and sportsbooks alike raising concerns about certain tenants of the law. For example, the New York State Gaming Commission has had its issues sticking to bidding deadlines, and sports bookers have stated that the tax rate proposed by the state is far too steep. In addition, the initial goal of an early 2022 launch of sports betting rules has recently been deemed too optimistic.
But this hasn’t stopped Jay-Z from joining sports merchandise company Fanatics Inc to craft a plan to enter the bidding war. Under executive chairman and founder Michael Rubin, Fanatics is looking to expand upon the success his company has found in the lucrative sports merchandise industry.
Jay-Z Investment and Involvement
Jay-Z and Roc Nation paid Fanatics $325 million as an investment for their sports betting venture and to secure the company as the funding to expand into sports gambling. With Fanatic’s board of executives continually adding top talent in the sportsbook industry, the company seems to be reorganizing to adjust to its new business model.
These additions are also rumored to include the addition of Jay-Z himself in the role of vice-chairman and guaranteeing him a seat on the board of directors. Furthermore, Jay-Z would help oversee a new section of the Fanatics company known as the Fanatics Betting and Gaming entity. This was all shown in now-redacted documents released by the New York State Gaming Commission.
Part of these documents also included a statement made by Jay-Z about the goal of his investment in Fanatics Inc. It said he planned to “help [Fanatics’ gaming division] attract new customers, engage existing sports bettors and expand the overall footprint of the Fanatics sportsbook.” Their newfound partnership is said to be headquartered in New York City and will further allow Fanatics to expand its betting business into other markets.
So What’s Next?
The delays continue with the New York State Gaming Commission, and final approvals have yet to be announced. According to the law, the Commission will have to approve at least two of the six groups currently bidding. With big names like DraftKings and FanDuel as competition, it’s possible Jay-Z won’t be one of the winning bids.
But as the sole African-American applicant and a prominent public figure, the chances are good that he can use his status to boost his position in the race for bids. The New York State Gaming Commission has until December to decide which bids it will accept, so only time will tell whether the entrepreneur will successfully expand into the exciting world of sports betting.