In massive news for the sports betting world, PENN Entertainment has announced a partnership with ESPN to create its own branded sportsbook, ESPN Bet.
The move comes in addition to the announcement of PENN selling Barstool Sports, which was founded in Massachusetts, back to its original founder, Dave Portnoy.
Thus, Barstool Sportsbook is set to be re-branded to ESPN Bet this fall.
Barstool was one of the first platforms to go live when Massachusetts sports betting apps launched earlier this year.
Impact on Massachusetts bettors
The dust is still settling from this massive deal, but from what we know right now, Barstool Sportsbook Massachusetts will be re-branded to ESPN Bet this fall.
ESPN Bet will be operated by PENN Interactive, and will benefit from exclusive promotional services across ESPN platforms. These include ESPN programming, content and access to ESPN talent.
“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,” PENN CEO and President Jay Snowden said in a release. “ESPN Bet will be deeply integrated with ESPN’s broad editorial, content, digital and linear product, and sports programming ecosystem. ESPN Bet will also benefit from PENN’s operational experience, extensive market access and proprietary technology platform, which successfully debuted in the U.S. this July.”
Online sports betting in Massachusetts launched on March 10, and so far, almost $2 billion in bets have been placed. Barstool Sportsbook is fourth among eight operators in the commonwealth with $86.6 million in handle and $7.6 million in revenue.
DraftKings Massachusetts leads the way with a total handle of $921.9 million and has generated $89 million in revenue.
Emergency Press Conference – I Bought Back Barstool Sports pic.twitter.com/dmUk0eNowx
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) August 8, 2023
Details of the PENN/ESPN deal
According to a PENN press release, PENN Entertainment sold 100% of Barstool stock to Portnoy “in exchange for certain non-compete and other restrictive covenants.” The total price of the Barstool sale is unknown.
“In connection with the transaction, we are selling Barstool back to founder David Portnoy,” Snowden said. “Barstool has been a great partner and we are thankful to Dave Portnoy, Erika Ayers, Dan Katz and their team for helping to rapidly scale our digital footprint across 16 jurisdictions in the U.S. and introducing their audience to our retail and digital products. 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.”
What we do know is that PENN has agreed to pay $1.5 billion to ESPN over the initial 10-year term and grant ESPN approximately $500 million of warrants to purchase 31.8 million PENN shares. In exchange, PENN receives media, marketing services, brand and other rights provided by ESPN.
In addition, ESPN could receive bonus warrants to purchase an additional 6.4 million PENN shares upon meeting certain US online sports betting market share.
“After meeting with Jay and the PENN team, it was clear that they were the right long-term strategic partner to build ESPN Bet into a leading US sports betting platform,” ESPN Chair Jimmy Pitaro said in a release. “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.”