Why One Maryland Native Left ESPN For A Career In Sports Betting

Posted on September 24, 2021 - Last Updated on February 14, 2022

On May 21, Rachel Marcus announced that her eight-year tenure with ESPN had come to a close. Three days later, the Maryland native announced she had joined WynnBET as the site’s director of content.

Marcus, who graduated from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University — the alma matter of Bob Costas and Mike Tirico, among many others — made the move from ESPN to WynnBET of her own accord.

The main reason Marcus gave for her career change was the potential growth of the sports betting landscape. That the site has backing from such an established player in the betting world in Wynn, only made the move more appealing.

Another reason Marcus is excited about WynnBET and the Maryland sportsbook is that while the industry has exploded, it’s still in its infancy.

Rachel Marcus on sports betting’s future

The way Marcus sees it, there has always been an interest in sports betting. However, the inability to bet legally on sports outside of Las Vegas put limits on the amount of sports betting coverage and content. With the growing access to legal online betting across the United States, those walls are falling.

“The last couple of years, it’s really changed, and it’s growing even more,” Marcus said. “I think people see this is going to be successful. We know it’s going to work, and I want to be a part of this.”

WynnBET is currently operational in seven US states:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

Marcus sees a time soon when most people will live in a state, or at least near a state, where they will be able to participate in legal sports betting.

A career in sports betting

We know why Marcus left ESPN to join WynnBET, but what is her role in the growing company? To be more specific, what does the “Director of Content” in a relatively new space like legal sports betting do?

Marcus oversees all the editorial content on WynnBET, but her focus right now is “The Playbook,” the space on WynnBET’s website that Marcus hopes to use as a showcase for what makes the sportsbook different from its competition.

As Marcus said of The Playbook:

“My goal is to say, ‘OK, what are we doing that’s making us different from another company? How are we differentiating ourselves?’”

Marcus cites the partnership WynnBET has with Blue Wire Podcasts as one reason to check out The Playbook. One of the new podcasts is “Upsets and Underdogs,” which is hosted by former NFL free safety and Super Bowl champion Will Blackmon. On the podcast, Blackmon looks at some of the greatest upsets and underdogs in sports history.

Marcus feels the talent WynnBET has assembled on the editorial side of things will be an enormous benefit to the company as it grows.

And growth is something Marcus expects.

“What I tell a lot of people is, it’s a really basic analogy, but I think we’re in the second inning,” she said.

Sports (and sports betting) in Maryland

Sports betting is not yet legal in Marcus’ home state of Maryland, where she spent the first 18 years of her life.

But it soon will be. And she thinks it will be huge just based on the population density of the state and how close it is Washington, DC and Virginia.

“I have no doubt it’s an untapped market,” Marcus said when asked about the potential of Maryland as a sports betting destination. “Some of Maryland’s surrounding states offer sports betting, but having it available in-state is a huge boon. I think a lot of people who may have to drive into Virginia now will be very happy to have sports betting legal state-wide in Maryland.”

As for her own Maryland sports memories and favorites, Marcus said that family connections to New York had her rooting for teams outside of her home state. However, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have fond memories of Maryland sports. In fact, many of her first interactions with big-time sports took place in the state.

“I have fond memories of attending numerous sporting events in Maryland. My first-ever pro sporting event was an Orioles game at Camden Yards, my first NFL game was a Ravens game, and I got to see my Giants visit FedEx Field in Maryland to see the Washington Football Team,” she said. “I also attended University of Maryland basketball games at the Comcast Center. And that doesn’t even count the numerous sporting events I went to in Washington, DC.

“I’m always unbiased when it comes to work, but I’ll never lose my sports fandom.”

Photo by Dreamstime/Sean Pavone and Rachel Marcus
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