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ESPN to Release Sportsbook This Fall

ESPN to Release Sportsbook This Fall

In a recent development, ESPN has officially entered the sportsbook betting arena, solidifying the long-standing speculations. In partnership with PENN Entertainment, the two entities have announced a collaboration to introduce ESPN BET, set to launch in the upcoming fall.

This release will initially begin in the 16 states where PENN holds valid operating licenses. The existing Barstool Sportsbook will undergo a rebranding process to transition into ESPN BET, marking a pivotal step for the sports betting operator. 

Barstool Sports and PENN Entertainment 

This transition will encompass various platforms, including the mobile app, website, and mobile website. PENN Entertainment has returned the Barstool Sports common stock to the founder, David Portnoy. In exchange for this, specific non-compete clauses and other constraining agreements have been established.

PENN also retains the entitlement to receive 50% of the total proceeds garnered by Portnoy if he chooses to sell or engages in another form of monetization involving Barstool. 

ESPN and PENN Entertainment

Expressing gratitude towards Barstool for their strong partnership, Jay Snowden, the CEO of PENN Entertainment, acknowledged the collaboration with ESPN as a significant turning point in PENN’s journey. Snowden stated, “This exclusive and transformative agreement with ESPN represents another pivotal moment in PENN’s transformation from a U.S. regional gaming operator to a prominent North American entertainment leader.

The integration of ESPN Bet will be intricately woven into ESPN’s extensive editorial, content, digital, linear products, and sports programming ecosystem.” Jimmy Pitaro, the President of ESPN, shared this belief and emphasized PENN Entertainment as the ideal long-term strategic collaborator for the creation of ESPN Bet.

This partnership highlights the shared vision between PENN Entertainment and ESPN, announcing an exciting new chapter in the sports entertainment world. 

Past Speculation of ESPN and Sports Betting

ESPN had been the subject of speculation regarding its potential interest and involvement in the sports betting realm. On multiple occasions, in the past, ESPN had been linked with a different powerhouse sports betting industry, DraftKings.

Pitaro, emphasized the company’s dedication to catering to sports enthusiasts, stating, “Our core focus remains serving sports fans, and it’s evident that they desire both betting-related content and a seamless betting experience integrated within our products. The underlying strategy is straightforward: to fulfill the desires and expectations of our audience, providing them with a comprehensive offering.” 

Final Agreements So Far

Financially, PENN Entertainment is prepared to pay ESPN $1.5 billion in cash for a decade. Additionally, an additional $500 million in warrants, with a gradual vesting process throughout the term, will be allocated “in exchange for media, marketing services, brand, and other rights provided by ESPN.” Penn will secure the betting rights to the ESPN brand for ten years while retaining the option for a ten-year extension, subject to mutual agreement.

The promotional power of ESPN will come into play as its programs are expected to endorse the service, with select ESPN personalities also engaging with the venture. Furthermore, ESPN will have the privilege to designate a PENN board member after three years. 


This collaboration between ESPN and PENN Entertainment marks a huge stride in the ever-changing realm of sports betting, welcoming a new era of engagement for sports enthusiasts and participants alike. The announcement from Dave Portnoy declaring his ownership of Barstool Sports underlines a momentous shift for Barstool and its future trajectory, accompanied by a renewed sense of autonomy and eagerness.

The combined efforts of PENN and ESPN are poised to revolutionize the entertainment industry, drawing from their respective strengths to create a dynamic and immersive experience for consumers across North America.

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