ESPN, the largest sports network in the world, has announced it will be partnering with Penn Entertainment to launch a new sports betting platform in the US. ESPN Bet will be available in 16 states when it goes live and will offer real money betting on a variety of sports from around the world.
Penn Entertainment has agreed to pay ESPN an astonishing $1.5 billion over the next ten years to use the brand under license for this sportsbook. The casino and entertainment company will also be providing ESPN with $500 million in warrants to purchase Penn Entertainment stock, as well as agreeing to further performance-related bonuses.
This mega deal will see Penn Entertainment look to capitalize on the growing sports betting market across the country. ESPN has a huge audience and is a brand that sports fans can trust. In addition, the sportsbook will already be licensed and legal in 16 states, with more potentially on the way.
What Can We Expect From ESPN Bet?
It’s still early days since the announcement of the ESPN Bet platform, but we already know a few major things about this new sports betting platform. First of all, we know exactly where the sportsbook will be available when it first launches.
ESPN Bet will be licensed in 16 states initially, though more could follow. If you’re in any of the following states, you’ll be able to register at ESPN Bet when it first launches:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
ESPN Bet is essentially the new face of Barstool Sportsbook, meaning we can expect similar features and promos when the site goes live. You can find out what to expect by checking out our Barstool Sportsbook review, where we look at all of the features and benefits that it has to offer. Here are some of the key features which we can expect:
While it’s not yet known what the ESPN Bet promo will be, we have a good idea. The Barstool Sportsbook will be rebranded as ESPN Bet, and it’s likely that the same bonuses and promos will be used. Currently, Barstool offers a risk-free bet worth up to $1,000 for all new customers. In addition, there’s the Penn Play rewards system, which lets you earn real rewards for placing bets.
Making deposits and withdrawals will be simple at ESPN Bet. The payment process at Barstool was extremely straightforward, and we expect it to be similar. There will most likely be a wide range of payment options to choose from, and processing times should be fast to ensure you get your money quickly.
Odds and Sports
At Barstool Sportsbook, the odds were generally worse compared to the average for other betting apps. This was definitely a mark against the platform and something we hope that ESPN Bet can improve on. While its odds weren’t the best of all available options, Barstool did well by offering a huge range of sports. It had more sports to be on than most other sites, including both US and international leagues.
The coverage of betting markets was another great feature of Barstool and something that we also expect to see at ESPN Bet. It’s likely that major games will have hundreds of markets to choose from, and even smaller events should still have a range of options you can bet on.
We also thought the live betting section at Barstool stood out when we reviewed the platform. Barstool had loads of live events every day and a good range of different stats on major games. ESPN is known for its excellent media coverage of live games, so we expect to see great availability of live games at ESPN Bet too.
Barstool Sportsbook didn’t offer live streaming, which held it back somewhat, considering a lot of the top sportsbooks feature live streams of games. However, the ESPN partnership could well include provisions for live-streaming rights. Right now, it’s unclear whether live streaming will be available, but we have a pretty good feeling it will be.
Cash out is a feature that no modern sportsbook should do without. Cashing out your bets at Barstool is incredibly easy, so we expect a similar system to be used at ESPN Bet. This means being able to check your betslip to see the current cash out value and cashing out bets quickly without any issues.
Usability was one of the best features of Barstool Sportsbook when we reviewed it. We found the design to be incredibly modern and simple while still offering all the menus and options you need to have a quality betting experience. With the quality of the ESPN app and website, we expect something similar here, so betting will likely be incredibly straightforward.
Mobile accessibility is important to ESPN, which has its own app for news reports, scores, and sports media content. The Barstool app that Penn Entertainment offered was also excellent, allowing bettors to easily sign up and place bets from their mobile. You’ll be able to download the ESPN Bet app and instantly access your favorite sports and markets.
Customer service is extremely important for big brands like ESPN that have a reputation to uphold. The Barstool sportsbook took a good approach to customer service, too, offering an FAQ page as well as standard contact methods. We expect the experience at ESPN Bet to be similar, with 24/7 live chat most likely available.
What Does the Penn Entertainment Partnership Mean?
Three years ago, Penn Entertainment paid $163 million for a stake of 36% in Barstool. They used the Barstool brand to launch their online sports betting platform, aiming to combine both sports and entertainment media with online betting. Their idea was to target the fans of Barstool as they looked to compete with DraftKings and FanDuel in the fast-growing sports betting market.
Just under one year ago, Penn bought the remainder of Barstool from founder Dave Portnoy but has now sold the company back to him. Portnoy is a controversial figure, and it’s emerged that his presence behind the scenes made it difficult for the company to obtain sports betting licenses. By selling Barstool and instead choosing the work with ESPN, Penn is leveling up its sportsbook and setting its sights on a much larger audience.
The deal between ESPN and Penn Entertainment is huge, worth a guaranteed $2 billion with potentially more if the platform meets performance targets. This isn’t ESPN’s first foray into the betting and gaming market, with the sports news channel previously putting out fantasy and sports betting content on its website, TV programs, and social channels.
However, sports betting partnerships aren’t a sure thing in terms of success. Fox News has an even bigger audience than ESPN, and yet this month, the FOX Bet sportsbook announced it will be closing down after four years in operation. In addition, some fans might be upset that their ESPN sports coverage may be influenced by the world of sports betting.
ESPN has hinted for years that it intends to enter the online betting space, and it’s easy to see why when you look at how fast the space has grown in a short space of time. There is a massive appetite for sports betting across the country, and the broadcasting giant clearly aims to acquire a slice of it. While it remains to be seen how the platform will be received, we’ll for sure let you know what we think as soon as it goes live.