The Latest on ESPN Bet – What We Know and What to Expect

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The Latest on ESPN Bet – What We Know and What to Expect

Author: American Gambler Staff | Publish Date: August 23, 2023 | Last Updated: September 15, 2023

The sports betting world received a jolt when PENN Entertainment announced that its Barstool Sportsbook will be rebranded as ESPN Bet this fall in the 16 US markets where it operates.

ESPN had been looking to launch a branded sportsbook and struck the deal after holding talks with DraftKings and Caesars last year.

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ESPN announced in June 2021 that it was going “all-in” to explore launching its own branded online sportsbook. The Walt Disney-owned ESPN reportedly came close to an agreement with DraftKings in October 2022. However, a month later, ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro announced that a deal with an online sportsbook provider was “not imminent.” Almost a year later, they struck a deal with PENN Entertainment to offer its branded sportsbook to US players.

What We Know about ESPN Bet

The collaboration between PENN and ESPN Bet marks the end of Barstool Sportsbook less than four years after its expensive acquisition by PENN. The agreement also saw the Barstool Sports brand sold back to Dave Portnoy, which includes a non-compete clause.

The deal is for ten years, with ESPN to receive $1.5 billion in cash over the initial term for the rights to the ESPN Bet trademark. What is means for existing betting sites remains to be seen.

PENN has also granted ESPN $500 million in warrants to purchase 31.8 million shares of its stock, which will be invested for the course of the agreement. If ESPN Bet fails to meet performance targets after three years, the deal could be terminated, although no specifics about that portion of the contract were publicized.

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After PENN CEO Jay Snowden called its current betting platform “an inferior product” earlier this year, the Barstool Sportsbook completely overhauled its platform over the MLB All-Star weekend in July from a third-party betting platform to a superior in-house product that will allow ESPN Bet to maximize its potential and compete with the best sports betting apps

PENN has been ambitious in projecting that ESPN Bet will hold a 20% share of the sports betting market by 2027. However, the ESPN Bet app must have the performance and features modern bettors have enjoyed on other top sports betting apps if it hopes to compete with the best in the business.    

When will ESPN Bet Launch?

Snowden says the platform is targeted for a November 2023 launch, most likely around Thanksgiving. However, the safe bet would be to expect ESPN Bet to start offering sports wagering by the time the NFL playoffs start on January 13, 2024.

It will be intriguing to see how ESPN Bet chooses to advertise and how they choose to incentivize potential customers relative to existing sportsbook promos.

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ESPN Bet Expected Markets

As PENN’s new online sports betting product, ESPN Bet will immediately have access to all 16 markets where Barstool Sportsbook currently operates. Whether the platform will launch in all states at once or be staggered over several weeks hasn’t yet been determined. ESPN Bet will soon be available for players in the following states:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan 
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

American Gambler Staff