ESPN BET To Launch Nov. 14 In Maryland, Replacing Barstool

Written By T.J. McBride on November 6, 2023
Logo for ESPN Bet, which is set to launch in Maryland Nov. 14.

The date for the unveiling of ESPN Bet has been set. The launch could be a titanic shift in the sports betting industry. No name in sports is as well known as ESPN.

ESPN Bet will officially launch on Tuesday, Nov. 14, in 17 states, including in Maryland.

The ESPN Bet sportsbook is a partnership with PENN Entertainment, which rebranded Barstool Sportsbook into ESPN Bet then sold the Barstool name back to its original owner, Dave Portnoy.

ESPN Bet could soon be an industry leader in Maryland and beyond.

ESPN-PENN deal is for 10 years with option for 10 more

Boasting a dozen online sportsbooks, Maryland sports betting is thriving. Barstool was middle of the pack in the Maryland market during its lifetime. With $78.9 million of wagers taken in Maryland, it was fifth in total handle during its time in The Old Line State.

Before the official launch on Nov. 14, there will be a preview at the ESPN Edge conference in New York City on Nov. 9. PENN CEO Jay Snowden and ESPN Vice President of Sports Betting and Fantasy Mike Morrison will lead the presentation.

Snowden announced the launch date of ESPN Bet during PENN’s 2023 third quarter earnings report.

“We are extremely excited to announce the planned launch of ESPN BET prior to the active Thanksgiving week sports calendar that includes the NCAA college football rivalry week and the Super Bowl rematch of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles televised on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. ESPN BET will be powered by our proprietary and proven technology platform, which continues to drive impressive performance in Ontario under theScore Bet brand for both online sports betting and iCasino.”

PENN secured a partnership with ESPN in August. The deal is for a 10-year term. There is a mutual opt-in option for another decade after that. ESPN receives $1.5 billion over the first 10 years of the deal and about $500 million to purchase 31.8 million shares of PENN Entertainment stocks.

There is also a bonus of another 6.4 million shares if ESPN Bet reaches a certain level of market share in the US. The rebrand spans across the mobile app, website and mobile website.

ESPN Bet will have same betting offerings as Barstool

Users of the former Barstool Sportsbook app will be prompted to download the new ESPN Bet mobile app once it is released on Nov. 14. There will be no additional registration required, and all profile information will continue to be saved in the app.

ESPN Bet plans to offer the same game parlay bets, featured bets, quick bets (micro-markets) and player props as Barstool offered.

There are plans to begin integrating the ESPN brand with PENN’s mobile sportsbook. One example is ESPN using two of its SportsCenter hosts to lead a marketing and advertising project, Snowden said.

“In connection with the launch, ESPN will be implementing an initial wave of exclusive integrations targeting their 200 million loyal fans across their linear and digital platforms, including an advertising campaign headlined by SportsCenter anchors Scott Van Pelt and Elle Duncan.”

This is just the start for ESPN Bet. Snowden said there are plans to further integrate ESPN to expand its overall appeal in Maryland and beyond.

“Looking ahead, we will be introducing even deeper platform and media integrations with ESPN over the upcoming months, providing an unmatched and seamless media/betting experience that will appeal to sports fans across the country.”

Will ESPN Bet be successful in Maryland?

Even with the ESPN brand, PENN could struggle to make it into the top tier of sports betting operators in Maryland.

Since its inception, the sports betting market has been dominated by two operators: FanDuel Maryland and DraftKings Maryland. Each has a higher lifetime handle in Maryland than the other 15 operators combined, including the sportsbook formerly known as Barstool.

FanDuel alone has taken nearly 48% of all online wagers in the state, while DraftKings has taken another 33% of the total. That leaves just 19% for the rest of the sportsbooks.

Barstool has enjoyed just 2.7% of the online sports bets during its lifetime in Maryland. That is quite a mountain for ESPN Bet Maryland to scale. Even reaching the third most successful sportsbook in the state, BetMGM Maryland, would be a monumental task. BetMGM has taken nearly $269 million of wagers in Maryland, nearly four times more than Barstool.

It will be interesting to see if ESPN Bet can carve out a place in Maryland and in the 16 other states it will launch in soon.

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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver, Colorado who covers the Denver Nuggets as a beat writer. His byline can be found across many websites such as ESPN, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report, and others.

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