Penn Entertainment, ESPN Ink Sports Betting Deal As Barstool Sportsbook Loses Seat At The Table

Written By David Danzis on August 8, 2023 - Last Updated on August 21, 2023
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Goodbye, Barstool Sportsbook. Hello, Worldwide Leader in Sports.

New Jersey sports gamblers could be using an ESPN-branded online sportsbook as soon as this fall, according to a press release. Penn Entertainment and ESPN announced the 10-year deal just ahead of the regional gaming operator’s scheduled second-quarter earnings call.

Speculation and rumors about ESPN’s likely foray into legalized sports betting have persisted since PASPA fell in 2018. Some questioned whether Disney-owned ESPN would ever shed its family-oriented perception to embrace a vice such as gambling.

Now, we know the answer.

In a statement, Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN, said that Penn was the “right long-term strategic partner to build ESPN Bet into a leading U.S. sports betting platform.” He went on to add:

“We are confident that the combination of our unparalleled audience along with PENN’s operational expertise and state-of-the-art technology provides us with a tremendous opportunity to serve the ever-growing number of consumers interested in betting.”

Penn has no physical gaming presence in NJ.

Jay Snowden, Penn’s chief executive, said both sides will benefit from the newly-formed arrangement to make ESPN Bet one of the new online sportsbooks in NJ.

“This transformative, exclusive agreement with ESPN marks another major milestone in PENN’s evolution from a pure-play U.S. regional gaming operator to a North American entertainment leader. ESPN Bet will be deeply integrated with ESPN’s broad editorial, content, digital and linear product, and sports programming ecosystem.”

The Garden State features a Barstool sports betting app, as well as an online casino. The sportsbook will become ESPN Bet. The iGaming site will adopt the Hollywood Casino name.

The Barstool Sportsbook app launched in August 2021 in NJ under Freehold Raceway‘s sports wagering license. Freehold is jointly owned by Penn and Greenwood Racing & Entertainment (Parx Casino).

The company’s online casino operates under Resorts Digital Gaming‘s NJ gaming license.

Barstool Sports will return to founder Dave Portnoy. Penn sold 100% of the Barstool Sports common stock to Portnoy in exchange for certain non-compete and other restrictive covenants, according to the media statement.

Snowden thanked Portnoy and others at Barstool for their role in expanding Penn’s brand throughout the country. He said the “divestiture allows Barstool to return to its roots of providing unique and authentic content to its loyal audience without the restrictions associated with a publicly traded, licensed gaming company.”

Photo by David Kohl / AP Photo
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David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for PlayNJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports, and business. Today, he is PlayNJ’s Atlantic City “insider” and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting, and online gambling. David lives in Atlantic County, NJ with his wife and two children.

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