ESPN dropped a bomb on the sports betting world by announcing an agreement with PENN Entertainment. The two sides have partnered to launch ESPN BET in 16 states this fall.
The sports betting news comes just ahead of college football season, and it’s sent shockwaves throughout social media.
ESPN announced the agreement on Tuesday in a press release.
ESPN today announced an agreement with PENN Entertainment to launch ESPN BET, a branded sportsbook for fans in the United States. PENN Entertainment will rebrand its current sportsbook and relaunch as ESPN BET, effective this Fall in the 16 legalized betting states where PENN Entertainment is licensed. The rebrand includes the mobile app, website, and mobile website.
“Our primary focus is always to serve sports fans and we know they want both betting content and the ability to place bets with less friction from within our products,” said ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro
“The strategy here is simple: to give fans what they’ve been requesting and expecting from ESPN. PENN Entertainment is the perfect partner to build an unmatched user experience for sports betting with ESPN BET.”
Jay Snowden, the CEO and President of PENN Entertainment echoed those sentiments by saying, “This agreement with ESPN and collaboration on ESPN BET allows us to take another step forward as an industry leader.
That collaboration includes the app being “promoted on [ESPN] broadcaster’s platforms” as well as having “access to ESPN programming and talent.”
ESPN will replace Barstool Sports, whom Penn had previously acquired.
Social media has exploded with reaction to the news.
i cannot wait to lose all my money here 🔥
— Silas Bobendrier (@BobendrierNFL) August 8, 2023
Make it the best book there is with good rewards. ESPN is our favorite network, you know.
— Odeh (@tablechange) August 8, 2023
Many were shocked to hear the news.
— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) August 8, 2023
What happens to Barstool Sports?
Many are excited about the move to ESPN, but some are wondering what it means for Barstool.
Penn will sell the company back to its founder.
Did Portnoy buy back Barstool?
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 8, 2023
With the announcement going public, Dave Portnoy posted an “emergency press conference” to tell fans his plans for the future.
Emergency Press Conference – I Bought Back Barstool Sports pic.twitter.com/dmUk0eNowx
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) August 8, 2023
“PENN Entertainment and Barstool have gone our separate ways. As of this moment, while you are watching this video, I have purchased back Barstool Sports… We underestimated just how tough it is for myself and Barstool to operate in a regulated world.”
Joe Pampliano of Huddle Up suggests that Portnoy signed non-compete agreements to regain control of the business.
This section of the press release reads like @stoolpresidente paid $0 to get Barstool back by agreeing to sign non-competes and giving up 50% of a future sale.
So Penn paid $500M+ for Barstool and might give it back for free (if Portnoy never sells)? That’s crazy. pic.twitter.com/CzUSs57V8T
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) August 8, 2023
Portnoy claims that his sportsbook had been denied licensing because of the affiliation to Barstool, though he took a positive spin on his buying back the company.
“For the first time in forever, we don’t have to watch what we say, how we talk, what we do. It’s back to the pirate ship… This is now going to be a place for content, content, content, content.”