ESPN BET launched this week in 17 states and is expected to be a major player in the regulated US sports betting market. The new sportsbook is a team effort by Penn Entertainment and ESPN and will be using the network’s considerable reach among sports fans to build its customer base.
When it launched, ESPN BET already had a place in 17 states including: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. That’s because the new sportsbook is built on the framework of what used to be the Barstool Sports Sportsbook.
ESPN BET could run into some of the same challenges that Barstool faced, namely how to promote a sportsbook when your audience includes plenty of underrage viewers. This challenge gets even trickier due to the fact that Penn Entertainment and ESPN have agreed that Penn will run the back of the house operations while ESPN handles promotions.
Mike Morrison, ESPN’s vice president of sports betting addressed the thorny issue of sports betting content recently in comments reported on by iGaming Business saying, “This is really just the next step in the process for us. We feel at this point there’s enough national attention and interest. Being able to reference betting odds is a fundamental part of telling the story of the game that’s about to happen. Who’s the favourite, who’s going to win, by how much, what’s the expectation?”
ESPN BET is being promoted across the sports network’s flagship shows, including SportsCenter. Gaming regulators in those 17 states will certainly be watching.