ESPN Bet, the new sports betting platform, is scheduled to launch across 17 states this week on Tuesday, Nov. 14. In preparation for the debut of the retail and online sportsbook, ESPN has replaced Caesars Sportsbook as its odds provider with its in-house sports betting entity. Penn Entertainment reached a deal with ESPN in August, agreeing to pay $1.5 billion over 10 years for the rights to use the sports network’s identity for its sports betting business.
Since the mainstream acceptance of sports betting following the US Supreme Court’s decision in May 2018, ESPN had a partnership with Caesars Entertainment, allowing the sports network to use its Caesars Sportsbook odds in programming. However, ESPN has now switched to ESPN Bet, a part of the Penn deal, and the network’s website and programming now feature “Odds by ESPN Bet.”
Regulators in Massachusetts have voiced concerns about the launch of ESPN Bet, particularly with it being the first to use a third-party brand as its identity. There are worries about potential confusion among consumers regarding the distinction between ESPN the sports programmer and ESPN Bet the sportsbook. Commissioner Jordan Maynard highlighted an example involving a show where an ESPN personality discusses college football predictions and questioned whether the analyst’s comments could be perceived as marketing for ESPN Bet.
ESPN Bet officials have assured that there will be clear barriers between the two entities, with Penn Entertainment solely operating the sportsbook and without influencing ESPN’s content or journalistic integrity.
Additionally, there have been issues regarding the ESPN Bet logo. A peer-to-peer social betting startup called BroThrow raised concerns that the mint-colored ESPN Bet logo resembled its own, leading to a dispute. BroThrow’s CEO expressed concerns about the similarity and the potential impact on their business.
Overall, the launch of ESPN Bet across 17 states is expected to significantly impact the sports betting landscape, but it has also raised concerns and disputes regarding its identity and logo.