ESPN has officially entered the online sports betting world. Plans for ESPN Bet, a partnership between Penn Entertainment and Disney have been in the works for quite some time. The new sports betting app gained the attention of investors and analysts at the G2E conference on Monday in Las Vegas.
Penn CEO Jay Snowden said ESPN Bet should launch before Thanksgiving, November 23rd. If it does launch by or before Thanksgiving bettors will have 7 or more weeks of regular NFL season before the playoffs to bet using the app.
Welcome news for North Carolina sports betting
This is good news for online sports betting in North Carolina, which we think will benefit from an ESPN Bet launch. ESPN BET and Penn National Gaming are anticipated to apply for a license in North Carolina. If this comes to fruition, bettors will be able to use the ESPN Bet NC app when North Carolina online sports betting launches early next year.
Many features of ESPN Bet app available at launch
The new app will include most of its features at launch and be fully integrated shortly after. Having as many features operational at launch is a key to success.
Penn has made a significant investment in ESPN. Therefore, it is expected that ESPN Bet, including ESPN Bet NC, will be easy to navigate, allow for streaming and watching games simultaneously, and have all the features and bells and whistles to be a leader in the online sports betting app space.
Some expected features include:
– The ESPN app will link directly to ESPN Bet.
– Allowing users to research information on a game and place a bet without changing apps.
– Enabling users to incorporate more betting content on the traditional ESPN app.
ScoreBet and SkyeBet portend success as media/sportsbook crossover brands
Snowden used the launch of the Score Bet app in Ontario as an example of a successful launch. When theScore Bet app launched, Penn saw a 108% increase in customer retention after just six months of using Penn’s platform. Almost three-quarters of the users and the handle originated from theScore’s app in those six months.
Snowden also cites UK‘s Sky Bet which has 20% of the market in the UK as a successful example. Sky Bet also combines media and betting.
These positive numbers influenced Disney’s decisions to move forward with a partnership with Penn, Steve Wieczynski of Stifel wrote recently.
Barry Jonas an analyst at Truist added that competitors would not be prohibited from advertising on ESPN now that ESPN is in the betting business. Some media spots are expected to be available as long as the end result favors ESPN.
Given that two of ESPN’s biggest advertisers are sports betting app competitors DraftKings and FanDuel, keeping advertising spots open for them will be important.
More reasons for a November launch
A November launch, according to Snowden, will entice bettors to try ESPN Bet. This is because many players are looking for promotions at the beginning of the season.
ESPN BET North Carolina will almost certainly offer a promo code to new players. New player promo codes typically unlock bonuses that increase wins on a player’s first wager.
ESPN Bet North Carolina has not announced what the promotion will be. Based on previous new player promos from Penn, the ESPN Bet NC promo may add a cash bonus to a player’s account if the bet is a win or match the bet if it is a loss. Think of it as free insurance on the first bet.
Other welcome bonuses from ESPN BET North Carolina may include a deposit match that doubles your money before you see the betting odds. The promo could also guarantee your bonus bets after you place a non-bonus bet.
Penn has said it will have an aggressive promotional strategy. That’s good news for players using the app.
Regardless of the speculation about what the bonus will be, the welcome bonus is something all players should take advantage of.
ESPN Bet’s bet spending in the lead-up to NC launch
Penn’s budget for promotions will be similar to other betting apps, Wieczynski indicated. This includes $150 million to ESPN annually and an equal amount for ads. Overall, Penn has committed $2 billion to ESPN.
Image Credit: Ben McKeown / AP Images