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Game On: Jay-Z Applying for Sports Betting License In New York State

Perhaps Jay-Z is a business, man. 

Just two weeks after it was reported that the “Song Cry” emcee teamed up with Will Smith to turn renters into homeowners, Jay is back and is now teaming up with a different group to open an online sportsbook in New York. 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 08: Jay-Z and Blue Ivy Carter attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 08, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

On Monday, Aug. 9, Jay, whose real name is Shawn Carter, applied for an online sports betting license from the New York Gaming Commission in collaboration with friend and fellow mogul Michael Rubin. The pair are reportedly working on a project called Fanatics Sportsbook, in association with Kambi. Kambi is a sports betting technology provider headquartered in Sweden and is the primary applicant among the partnership group. Penn National, the betting company that owns Barstool Sportsbook, is also part of the group.

Jay and Rubin are hoping to beat out popular online sportsbooks FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Ballys, all of whom are part of a rival bid that also includes the New York Yankees, Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, New York City FC, and the YES Network, according to The Athletic. The state is expected to approve at least two companies by December. U.S. Supreme Court passed down a ruling in 2018 allowing regulated sports betting. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have approved sports betting markets. 

“Fanatics Sportsbook will use one of the largest sports fan databases in North America and proven sports betting platform and player account management technology to operate sports wagering in New York,” the company wrote in its application. It also noted that with this new venture, Jay is said to be focused on helping “attract new customers, engage existing sports bettors and expand the overall footprint of the Fanatics sportsbook.”

Outlets like TMZ and Page Six speculate that the team might have a possible “diversity” leg up, considering the rapper, who formerly held gaming licenses in Nevada and New Jersey with The 40/40Club,  is the only Black applicant for the permit in the state. “He’s a native New Yorker, and Roc Nation is a diverse company. Jay-Z is New York,” an unnamed figure said to be close to the process told Page Six. Should they get approved, the “4:44” rapper will be the vice-chairman and hold a spot on the board of directors of the Fanatics group, according to documents reviewed by Page Six. 

Jay and Rubin, who is also the co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, have collaborated and were part of the group that started the Reform Alliance, a nonprofit criminal justice reform organization that began in 2019. Rapper Meek Mill and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft were also part of the organization’s founding.

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