ESPN Enters The US Domestic Sports Betting Market With ESPN BET Sportsbook

On Tuesday, a $1.5 billion deal was reached between ESPN and PENN Entertainment to convert all existing Barstool Sports Sportsbooks into a new brand – ESPN BET.

The deal is for the use of the ESPN brand over the next ten years. The Barstool Sportsbook brand currently operates in sixteen states and will grant ESPN BET an immediate footprint to build from.

The deal also included a provision allowing the original owner of Barstool Sports, David Portnoy, to repurchase the brand for $1. PENN Entertainment will retain a 50% profit share should Barstool amount to anything worthy of revenue in the future.

Implications For The Domestic Sports Betting Market?

ESPN is a member of the Walt Disney Company’s corporate hierarchy alongside ABC. These channels carry the NFL, college football, NBA, UFC, MLB, NHL, boxing, and most other popular betting sports in the US.

With this new partnership, ESPN BET will be able to incorporate their betting lines into scoreboard graphics for games in all major leagues. No longer will the odds for betting on the NFL, NCAAF, or other games need to be disguised as research fodder.

On-air analysts can now direct viewers to the ESPN BET sportsbook to take action. This is an advantage that will aid in thrusting their branded sportsbook to the top of the heap domestically. 

They’ll need to expand, and that means going head-to-head with major vendors like DraftKings, BetMGM, and FanDuel. Expect an aggressive move in territories where ESPN BET does not hold a license.

“We’ve been in discussions with a number of entities over a fairly long period of time. It’s something that we’ve wanted to accomplish, obviously, because we believe there’s an opportunity here to significantly grow engagement with ESPN consumers, particularly young consumers,”

Bob Iger – Walt Disney Company CEO

Ultimately, the change will expedite the growing comfort that Americans have developed with legal sports betting. ESPN is a household network that most sports fans rely on, and that familiarity will go a long way if and when said fans select a sports betting site to do business with.

When Will ESPN BET Debut?

ESPN BET plans to go live this fall but has not announced a specific date they’ll begin accepting bets.


With the NFL preseason already underway, it is unlikely the debut will occur prior to the regular season’s start on September 7th. A start date around the onset of betting on the MLB World Series in late October is more likely.

Sources – CNN, The Hollywood Reporter