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ESPN BET Set to Debut ‘Certainly Before Thanksgiving’

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Updated Nov 14, 2023 · 1:22 PM PST

ESPN microphone hand holding black glove
Apr 22, 2023; Boulder, CO, USA; General view of an ESPN microphone during the first half of a Colorado Buffaloes spring game at Folsom Filed. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  • PENN Entertainment CEO Jay Snowden said ESPN BET will debut in the middle of the NFL season
  • ESPN BET live “Certainly by Thanksgiving,” Snowden said
  • ESPN is an “everything brand,” according to Snowden

PENN Entertainment held its Q2 2023 earning report this morning and CEO Jay Snowden didn’t hesitate in informing the public when ESPN BET would likely make its debut.

Snowden revealed that ESPN BET will debut in the middle of the NFL season, “certainly before Thanksgiving,” but a specific date had yet to be determined. The new sportsbook is likely to launch sometime in November. Sports fans looking to sign up with ESPN BET will be glad to hear the ESPN BET bonus code will be available for readers of SportsBettingDime.com.

ESPN and PENN Entertainment yesterday announced an agreement to launch ESPN BET by the fall in 16 states where PENN is licensed to operate. Barstool Sportsbook will be rebranded as ESPN BET moving forward.

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ESPN Is an “Everything Brand”

Snowden touted the ESPN and PENN Entertainment partnership as a “strategic relationship” between the two companies. ESPN is an “everything brand,” Snowden said, and the partnership is fully integrated and includes access and endorsement from top talent at ESPN. PENN Entertainment will also look at potentially integrating ESPN game feeds into the ESPN BET app by the end of the year, he said.

“There are a lot of things we can do here because of who our partner is,” Snowden said.

The partnership will be “more valuable” to ESPN over time, Snowden said. As part of the deal, PENN Entertainment will grant ESPN approximately $500 million of warrants to purchase 31.8 million PENN common shares. However, if ESPN BET reaches certain online sports betting market share thresholds, ESPN can receive bonus warrants to purchase an additional 6.4 million in PENN shares.

“You think about how this will be more valuable for ESPN over time, helping us achieve higher levels of market share. The higher levels of market share make the warrants they own at PENN more valuable. You make it to 20% you get more warrants and be more valuable,” he said.

If the partnership does not work out or meet expectations, Snowden said there are measures in the deal that would allow PENN to cancel the partnership after three years. He did not disclose the details of the three-year opt-out, but did say the bottom range of expectations by year three would be a 20% market share threshold for ESPN BET.

ESPN BET has the potential to be a top-three sportsbook in terms of market share in states it operates, Snowden said. By likely launching in November, the CEO said ESPN BET’s debut won’t get “lost in the noise” of NFL week one and other operators will have burnt through their promotional spend by this time.

The company also believes that the ESPN partnership will allow it to receive sports betting licenses in states where a Barstool partnership would not, Snowden said. There may be an opportunity to gain access into New York, he said, and PENN could be interested even with the difficult tax rate.

“Nobody is making money in New York, but in terms of database cultivation, hopefully there’s opportunities down the road for access,” he said.

The online Barstool Sportsbook will be rebranded ESPN BET in the fall of 2023, while theScore Bet will continue to operate in Canada. The rebrand includes the mobile app, website, and mobile website. PENN Entertainment will oversee the daily operations of ESPN BET sportsbook.

Snowden said that Barstool branding would be removed from PENN’s retail Barstool Sportsbook locations, but that would take some time. Moving forward, he noted that ESPN BET branded retail sportsbooks could become a reality.

PENN Entertainment Q2 2023 Results

In terms of the company’s Q2 2023 results, PENN Entertainment reported $1.67 billion in revenues, an increase of 2.9% year-over-year. Net income was reported at $78.1 million and net income margin of 4.7%, as compared with net income of $26.1 million and net income margin of 1.6% in the prior year.

PENN also reported an adjusted EBITDA of $330.4 million, a decrease of 30.7% year over year.

“The company experienced stable property level performance this quarter with each month showing sequential improvement. Additionally, we are excited to have successfully re-launched our sportsbook app, which features major product improvements that significantly upgrade the user experience, including streamlined navigation, faster load times, expanded wagering markets, enhanced promotions and deeper media integrations,” Snowden said in a release.

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