Back in August, ESPN posted a press release on their website detailing a new partnership with Penn Entertainment. Since 2020, Penn Entertainment has operated its sportsbook under the Barstool Sportsbook.
Penn Entertainment is now cutting ties with the bar-affiliated brand and seeking to align itself with more sports fans by relaunching its sportsbook under a new name. Maybe it’s one you recognize – ESPN BET.
About the Partnership
The deal was announced on ESPN’s website back on August 8th. The press release detailed how Penn Entertainment will pay ESPN $1.5 billion in cash over the next ten years to use the ESPN brand. ESPN will also have the option of purchasing approximately 31.8 million common shares of Penn Entertainment for $500 million. As part of the agreement, ESPN could also receive bonus warrants depending on ESPN BET’s performance.
ESPN BET is shooting to launch by November 14th in Michigan, but that date is in control of the MGCB. The Michigan Gaming Control Board, or MGCB, is the online casino and sports gaming governing body for the Great Lake State.
At least for the next ten years, ESPN will have its own sports betting brand. The most popular sports broadcasting company in history will now participate in online sports wagering.
Disney No Longer Anti-Gambling
The move by the Disney-owned company may come as a bit of a surprise to some. For decades, Disney and its long-time CEO, Bob Iger, were adamant about staying away from the sports wagering business. In 2019, Iger himself even said, “I don’t see The Walt Disney Company, certainly in the near term, getting involved in the business of gambling, in effect, by facilitating gambling in any way.”
However, after an early retirement in 2020 and then a return to his position in November 2022, it was clear his opinion and the company’s had changed now that the majority of US states had some form of sports wagering.
“I think that’s important to consumers, particularly young consumers.” Iger continued, stating it wouldn’t be an immediate thing and that he’d “prefer to wait as long as possible, but when I think about them, I think it’s inevitable that there’ll be … basically a seamlessness between sports programming and sports betting.”
And what could be more seamless than watching a game on ESPN while wagering through an ESPN app on your phone?
Where Will ESPN BET Be Live?
If all goes to plan and ESPN Bet can gain regulatory gaming approval, 17 US states will launch the ESPN BET app on November 14th. Currently, the espnbet.com website features just a hype video with an email typeform to sign up for more information. Fans can also sign up for a chance to win a trip to the ESPN Bristol Headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. According to the site, the following states will be the first to launch ESPN BET:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
We will likely see a staggered launch in these states, however, since gaming authorities are still approving the change.
Penn Entertainment mentioned that current Barstool customers will experience a simple transition to the new app. According to Penn, Barstool customers will receive a notification to download the new ESPN BET app, where all their account and wallet information will be transferred automatically.
For more information, visit ESPNBET.COM
Mac Daniel is a writer for PlayOnlineCasino and PlayOnlineSportsBetting. He has experience writing about a wide variety of topics, including healthcare, tourism, non-profit organizations, and most recently casino and sportsbetting news. To check out more of his work, visit: playonlinemichigan.com