ESPN BET Makes a Splash on US Sports Betting Landscape

ESPN BET has made a strong impression in the first few months since its launch in Nov. 2023. The new sportsbook platform rode on the back of its big-name brand to gain immense popularity.

In Aug. 2023, ESPN BET received $1.5 billion for the rights to use the sports giant’s name and to gain operational rights to the platform for 10 years. Under the deal, Penn Entertainment has agreed to promote ESPN BET across its online and broadcast channels.

DraftKings and FanDuel control roughly 80% of the online sports betting market in the USA. However, that looks set to change if ESPN BET’s December revenue reports indicate what’s to come.

It’s important to note that ESPN BET has launched several strong promotional offers, which may play a part in skewing the brand’s market penetration in each state. According to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the operator had acquired $50 million in handle for December. For context, the national total for the month was $643.2 million.

This sudden market capture has catapulted ESPN BET to the state’s top three positions for sportsbooks, remaining behind DraftKings and FanDuel.

ESPN BET Performance by State

In Massachusetts, ESPN BET led BetMGM, which raked $39.1 million in wagers during the month. However, it could still not make a dent on DraftKings and FanDuel, who posted handles of $315.9 million and $187.4 million, respectively. ESPN BET expectedly exceeded its November handle with $39.7 million. However, revenues took a hit as the operator recorded $4.2 million in December, a significant decrease from the $5.8 million recorded in November.

In Indiana, ESPN BET operates in partnership with Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg. The fledgling platform reported $33 million in the handle through the final month of 2023, translating to $3.7 million in revenue. By comparison, BetMGM emerged ahead by a slim margin with a handle of $33.6 million, while Caesars came close with $33 million.

Despite the significant difference in the recorded wages, ESPN returned a revenue figure of $1.7 million, compared to $2.5 million for the third-place Caesars Sportsbook.

ESPN BET generated a sizable $70.8 million handle in Ohio, putting it in the same league as country leaders DraftKings and FanDuel. In Dec. 2023, the new sportsbook generated $70.8 million in handle, with $29 million spent on promotional activities in the Buckeye state. It’s worth noting that the promotional spending for the month was almost three times as much as the next highest operator, DraftKings, who spent $10.5 million on promotions.

ESPN BET Aims at Fertile Sports Betting Market

“ESPN and Penn believe they can infiltrate this market,” Andrew Brandt, a sports business professor, said in a statement to CBS News. “They want to make it like one-stop shopping where you go to check the score, and there are your betting opinions right there. They think they can offer a better product.”

With sports betting now legal in 27 states, Americans are expected to wager more than $100 billion this year, according to the American Gaming Association. “It’s a fertile market even though it’s saturated,” Brandt said. “With sports betting so legalized and mainstream, it’s becoming a way to infiltrate that younger demographic.”

This could be the year for several other states to also legalize sports betting. California, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Missouri have pre-filed legislation for the 2024 session and could soon see wagering legalized in their states. With ESPN BET’s sudden impact on the market, larger sportsbooks may partner with the brand to capture the market in nascent betting economies, setting the stage for the future of sports betting in the United States.

About the Author
Nikhil Kalro

Nikhil Kalro

Nikhil Kalro covers the sports betting industry and revenue reporting at Gaming Today. Much of his work analyzes state revenue information, including betting activity and revenue for individual states and sportsbook operators. In addition, Nikhil provides news updates on the gambling industry itself, including product launches and legal issues. Nikhil’s previous experience includes five years with ESPN.

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