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An Early Look at ESPN BET
ESPN announced its agreement with PENN Entertainment back in August to create the newly branded ESPN BET online sportsbook. Using PENN’s proprietary software and expert knowledge in sports betting operations, the new provider has now launched in 17 states, allowing PENN to use the ESPN brand to promote its online sportsbook in markets that formerly offered Barstool Sportsbook. Pre-existing Barstool player accounts were unaffected under the new ESPN BET brand.
ESPN BET has been the top app download for online sportsbooks since it went live, with PENN Entertainment and ESPN committing significant marketing towards the betting site’s promotion. The app has had 65% of all sportsbook downloads in the US since it went online, with FanDuel and DraftKings at 14% and 11% since mid-November. ESPN BET’s lucrative signup bonus of up to a $1,000 match on the first deposit also contributed to the higher number of downloads.
ESPN BET Off and Running
ESPN BET’s highly anticipated launch came on November 14, 2023, in 17 states, including the mobile app, available from the Google Play Store and App Store. The platform provides a wide selection of betting markets besides the major North American sports leagues, including Formula 1, PGA Tour Golf, Cricket, MMA, rugby, soccer and tennis. Bettors can also enjoy features like quick bets, same-game parlays, player props and more.
With DraftKings and FanDuel holding around 75% of the online sports betting market share, ESPN BET still expects to bring in a significant number of additional customers. Half of all US residents ages 30 to 49 watch ESPN via cable and streaming services, and ESPN.com has over 25 million subscribers. Also, 75% of its viewing audience is male, and the network is number one in daytime viewership by a wide margin.
The big providers like DraftKings have stood up to the competition so far but haven’t faced a challenger with the deep pockets and sports influence as ESPN. DraftKings currently holds about 34% of the sports betting and iGaming market, which could be in jeopardy after the launch of ESPN BET.
Current ESPN BET Markets
ESPN BET acquired the betting licenses held by Barstool Sportsbook and PENN Entertainment to operate in its current US markets. ESPN BET is currently available for bettors in the following states:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
Further Expansion Coming for ESPN BET
ESPN BET has signed an agreement that allowed the operator to become one of the first online sportsbooks in the new North Carolina market once sports betting officially launches in 2024 and figures to be among the top NC sportsbook promos. PENN Entertainment announced that ESPN Bet has partnered with the Wells Fargo Championship and Quail Hollow Club to offer online wagering in the state.
Providers in North Carolina must partner with sports venues or pro sports organizations to operate legally. bet365 was the first sportsbook to be approved in the state after partnering with the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise. Other online providers can continue submitting applications until December 27, meaning online sports betting at ESPN BET could launch as early as the 2024 NCAA Men’s Tournament in March.
Sports fans can also expect the leading providers to find partnerships in North Carolina, as various professional sports teams are available for potential applicants hoping to enter the market.