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Disney and ESPN are officially entering the rapidly expanding sports betting industry. The sports media giant announced they will partner with PENN Entertainment to launch their new sportsbook, ESPN Bet. The new online sportsbook will replace Barstool Sportsbooks, which PENN divested from to partner with ESPN. While nothing is official as of yet, PENN and ESPN have both shared hopes of having the platform live and ready to accept bets before Thanksgiving.
"This transformative, exclusive agreement with ESPN marks another major milestone in PENN’s evolution from a pure-play U.S. regional gaming operator to a North American entertainment leader," PENN CEO Jay Snowden said. "ESPN Bet will be deeply integrated with ESPN’s broad editorial, content, digital and linear product, and sports programming ecosystem."
The news sent shockwaves across an industry that four major operators have dominated. While ESPN has not operated sportsbooks before, PENN has run several successful platforms over the last few years. The ESPN brand dominated US sports, and its website and app are still the most popular option for fans nationwide. That gives them a giant platform to promote their new sportsbook and allows them to use trusted ESPN analysts to provide content. No other sportsbook has that access, leading many to believe this deal will lead to another major power in the sports betting industry
With ESPN Bet being a rebrand of Barstool Sportsbook, the new operator will have access to the 16 markets in which Barstool currently operates. Those are Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, Virginia, New Jersey, Tennessee, Arizona, Iowa, West Virginia, Louisiana, Kansas, Maryland, Ohio, and Massachusetts. That gives them a massive advantage and should help them avoid being stomped on by the industry’s giants.
This news is also fantastic for states that have had trouble finding operators for their available licenses. Many smaller operators are being pushed out, and the once-exploding market is now beginning to settle. That has made markets less competitive, with Colorado being hit the worst. The state has had six sportsbooks exit their market in the last two years, leaving them with several open licenses. ESPN Bet will launch there this fall and should bring some more competitive balance to Centennial State.
Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid and has turned that into a successful career. He cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams along with his Alma Mater Arizona State. He specializes in baseball betting, but has experience in football, basketball, and hockey as well. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children.More info on Michael Savio
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