During a public meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on November 7th, Chris Rogers, the chief strategy officer at Penn Entertainment, outlined the operating plan for ESPN Bet in Massachusetts. Penn Entertainment is set to launch ESPN Bet in 17 US states, including Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania on November 14th. This launch comes as a result of a $1.5 billion deal between Penn Entertainment and ESPN, which presented a need for the company to divest from Barstool.
Rogers made it clear that ESPN is a separate entity owned by the Walt Disney Company and is different from their previous relationship with Barstool. As part of the ESPN deal, Penn sold Barstool Sports back to its founder, Dave Portnoy. In the partnership with ESPN, the company will be providing marketing services to Penn, including odds attribution on ESPN programming and traditional media integrations.
Efforts will be made to suppress marketing from those who have self-excluded, and strict content guidelines will be in place for marketing through social media. Advertising for ESPN Bet will not target or include anyone under the age of 21, and specific policies will be in place regarding promoting ESPN Bet on college campuses. While ESPN employees are not prohibited from wagering as they are not an operator, they are developing employee guidelines to ensure high standards of journalistic integrity.
During the presentation, Rogers expressed excitement for the launch of ESPN Bet and emphasized the commitment to high standards of compliance and responsible gaming in Massachusetts. The launch of ESPN Bet comes as a further push into the sports betting industry for ESPN, as discussed in an interview with Mike Morrison, vice president of sports betting at ESPN, in August.
The launch of ESPN Bet comes at a time when Penn Entertainment recorded a net loss of $724.8 million in the third quarter, a loss impacted by the operator’s divesture of Barstool. With the upcoming launch of ESPN Bet, Penn Entertainment is hopeful that their new marketing collaboration with ESPN will result in meaningful economic impact for the commonwealth.