NEW YORK (AP) – ESPN Bet, a sports betting service rebranded after the Disney-owned sports channel, launched in 17 U.S. states on Tuesday.
Penn Entertainment, which owns the service, signed a contract worth 1.5 billion dollars with ESPN for the rights to the sports media giant’s name in August. Under the deal, Penn will operate ESPN Beta while ESPN promotes the app on its online and broadcast platforms.
A Penn spokesman said the ESPN Bet app was also scheduled to launch Tuesday afternoon, but did not specify an exact time.
ESPN Bet was scheduled to be broadcast live in the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
Under the August deal, Penn’s rights to the ESPN brand will initially last for a decade with an option to extend for another 10 years. In addition to the $1.5 billion licensing deal, Penn also said it will grant ESPN the rights worth about $500 million to buy shares in Penn.
ESPN Bet is a rebranding of the existing sports betting app, Barstool Sportsbook. In August, Penn said he had sold Barstool Sports back to its founder Dave Portnoy.
The upcoming launch of ESPN Beta could Walt Disney Co. lead into unknown waters. Disney is fiercely protective of its family-friendly image, which is not usually associated with the world of sports gambling.
At the time of the agreement in August, ESPN said it would use its platforms “to educate sports fans about responsible gaming” — for example, by continuing to cover sports betting industry with “journalistic integrity,” creating an in-house “responsible gaming” committee, and developing marketing guidelines that “keep” fans safe.
The Associated Press