|It has been more than five years since the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting, and professional leagues and media personalities alike have gotten in on the action.
But one key player had been reluctant to get involved: ESPN.
The Worldwide Leader in Sports dipped its toe in the sports-gambling waters — including deals with Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings in 2020 — but stopped short of licensing out its brand to be used by a sportsbook.
That all changed Tuesday when the company announced a $2 billion deal with Penn to launch ESPN Bet, a US-based sports-betting platform.
Insider’s Ashley Rodriguez, Margaret Fleming, Lucia Moses, and James Faris talked to industry insiders to get their biggest takeaways from the deal, including how this could be the first step toward Disney spinning off ESPN.
While industry insiders described the deal as a “win, win, win,” ESPN and its new partner are now entering a whole new ball game. (Wanna bet on how many sports puns we can squeeze in here?)
A gambling rival, FanDuel, offered a window into this new world earlier this year. Shams Charania, one of the top NBA insiders and a FanDuel partner, upended the gambling world prior to the league’s draft in June. Hours before the event, Charania tweeted that Scoot Henderson was “gaining serious momentum” to go to the Charlotte Hornets with the second pick.
Charania’s tweet sent gamblers scrambling and led to Henderson’s odds of going No. 2 to swing from significant underdog to heavy favorite. The Hornets ultimately took Brandon Miller, who was originally favored to go in that spot, leaving some gamblers up in arms.
In simple terms, these folks made a bet based on Sham’s tweet, lost money, and weren’t happy about it.
ESPN is stacked with expert reporters and analysts across sports. These stars are sure to be a part of Penn’s playbook. But the FanDuel episode highlights the risks involved.
It’s one thing to be bummed out when a trade or a game goes against your team or to disagree with the person calling a game. It’s another when you’ve got money riding on it.