How ESPN BET Can Improve With Better Parlay Offerings

PENN Entertainment, which operates the sports betting platform branded as ESPN BET, aims to bolster its parlay offerings before the NFL season. If it can, it will be better positioned to compete with industry leaders DraftKings and FanDuel, says CEO Jay Snowden.

ESPN BET launched in several states late in 2023 and has since rolled out in others this year. PENN rebranded the product last year, aligning it with ESPN. Formerly, the sports betting app was known as Barstool Sportsbook.

It’s expected that ESPN BET will need time to challenge the top sports betting operators, which typically account for 60% or more of the total handle market share in most states. The total handle represents the total dollar amount wagered.

PENN CEO Notes Popularity of NFL Parlay Betting

In the United States, betting on the NFL is the most popular form of sports wagering. From September through the Super Bowl in early February, pro football betting is the lifeblood for sports betting operators and daily fantasy sports. But, ESPN BET lags behind its competitors in the breadth of parlay odds, which are popular among NFL fans.

In March, at the J.P. Morgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Management Access Forum in Las Vegas, Snowden admitted that his company needed to catch up.

“We know that’s the gap right there,” Snowden said when asked about sports betting revenue for ESPN BET from parlay wagering.

While parlays are not as common for sports like hockey, basketball, and baseball, they often account for nearly a third of the total handle on a given Sunday during the NFL season, according to Snowden.

“That makes sense to me [that we need improved parlay offerings] because we know that the product that people want, 60% of bets are on parlays,” Snowden explained, adding that parlays account for 30% of total handle.

Many sports bettors have yet to use ESPN BET. What can they expect in the parlay market from that mobile sportsbook?

Related Pages: Parlay Calculator | How to Bet on the NFL | Legal Sports Betting States

The Parlay Experience at ESPN BET

It’s easy to see why PENN wants to improve its ESPN BET parlays. A look at a typical NBA Playoff game shows how ESPN BET is lacking compared to FanDuel.

In a Boston vs. Miami NBA Playoff game, ESPN BET has 40% fewer parlay markets than its FanDuel counterpart. For example, at FanDuel, a user can parlay the first basket scorer and game prop bets. ESPN BET does not always allow game and player props to be in the same parlay.

ESPN BET has far fewer player props available for games, too, which means fewer choices for the customer. For the NFL season, ESPN BET would benefit from better parlay options.

Many NFL bettors like to place parlay wagers like this:

  • Quarterback A to Throw 2+ TD Passes
  • Wide Receiver B to Catch Over 79.5 Yards
  • Defensive Lineman C to Record Over 0.5 Sacks

A three-leg parlay like that may offer odds of +250 or more, depending on many factors. A winning $100 bet would return a $350 payoff, including the original stake.

The more options a sportsbook has, the better for consumers.

We also mark down ESPN BET for making it difficult to place a parlay. The parlay buttons are often in the betting slip window on ESPN BET, whereas DraftKings, BetMGM, and FanDuel have a parlay tab on the main menu for each sport and within the sporting event.

ESPN BET has a “Parlay+” tab for some events, but not all. We don’t like that ESPN BET fails to categorize well within its parlay betting options. There’s endless scrolling and a bland user interface, and all players are recognized with an abbreviated one-letter first name (except for combo props, for some reason). It’s easy for a bettor to miss what they’re looking for.

Improvement Coming for Product Development?

In Las Vegas in March at the JP Morgan event, Snowden hinted at a new hire to head up product development. That hire was announced this week when PENN revealed that Aaron LaBerge was coming over from the Walt Disney Company, where he has over 20 years of experience. LaBerge will be charged with improving ESPN BET so it can go head-to-head with FanDuel and others.

“I know Aaron is looking forward to working with Todd George, our head of operations, and our entire Executive Team to continue growing our position as a leader in online gaming, sports betting, and digital sports media,” Snowden said.


About the Author
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Writer and Contributor
Dan Holmes is a veteran writer and contributor for Gaming Today. He has written three books, including The Ballplayers: Baseball’s Greatest Players Remembered, Ranked, and Revealed, which will be released in 2024. Holmes has previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball.

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