ESPN Bet Promos Secure Market Share In Other States And NC Should Be No Different

In the first weeks that ESPN Bet, the new sportsbook from Penn Entertainment, has been on the market, it’s shown that it can challenge market leaders through the time-worn tactic of enticing promo offers.

ESPN Bet North Carolina will be one of this state’s most anticipated sports betting apps when the market launches in 2024. The ESPN Bet Promo Code could bring many customers to that sportsbook.

How ESPN Bet has performed elsewhere can help us predict how the app will fare when North Carolina sports betting launches.

Penn Could Surpass Caesars and BetMGM With ESPN Sportsbook

According to SBC Americas, ESPN Bet was fifth in that state for total bet spending (handle) despite being on the market for only about 14 days. The two sportsbooks directly in front of Penn’s ESPN-branded product were Caesars and BetMGM, which were within $100,000 of each other.

Yet ESPN Bet, fueled by heavy use of lucrative promo offers, could realistically surpass both BetMGM and Caesars in Indiana, and perhaps elsewhere, making it the third highest-grossing sports betting platform in some markets. The leaders nationally are DraftKings and FanDuel, which typically control about 60-65% of the market.

A wildcard in the mix is Fanatics, which is not licensed everywhere (including Indiana) and hasn’t been able to challenge other sportsbooks head-to-head yet nationally.

Fanatics and ESPN Bet are expected to be available in North Carolina on launch day.

What are the early numbers on ESPN Bet’s market impact?

JMP Securities estimates that ESPN Bet earned about 6% of the total handle from sports betting in Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, and Maryland for November. According to JMP, ESPN Bet could claim 5% of the market after it accounted for its promo spend, which was reportedly very high. Many states do not reveal promo spend dollars.

According to the Earnings and More newsletter from +More Media, ESPN Bet may be spending wildly to gain market share early on. The newsletter says, “analysts at Stifel suggested the market share by handle [for ESPN Bet in four states for Nov. 2023] might be “’overstated’ due to the levels of promos.”

Notably, most sports betting operators spent a lot on promos early in new markets to gain a foothold and earn brand recognition. What Penn is doing with its ESPN Bet product is not unusual.

How much has ESPN Bet relied on promo spending?

Not all states reveal the exact promo spend for each sportsbook. We do not have numbers for the promo spend by Penn on behalf of ESPN Bet in Maryland, Massachusetts, Indiana, Iowa, and other states where it launched last month.

However, according to +More Media, in those four states for November, ESPN Bet accounted for 46% of the promo spend. The activity may have sparked new interest: total handle increased 15% in those states from the prior month. That gain could also be partially accounted for by interest in the NFL and college football seasons.

Can NC bettors expect heavy promo spend by ESPN Bet in NC?

It’s safe to expect the North Carolina market to see big promotional spending once online sports betting begins. That’s based on history: every market has seen a big kickoff regarding a blanketing of advertisements and accompanying promo offers.

We won’t know what an ESPN Bet NC bonus code will get you in North Carolina until weeks or even days before the launch. It appears though that ESPN Bet is working to convert people who download the app into bettors through promo offers. And North Carolina should be no different. It will likely be the biggest state to launch sports betting next year, and getting a foothold in such a diverse sports-focused market will go a long way.

By law, the state must launch NC online sports betting no sooner than Jan. 8, and no later than June 14, 2024.

At the moment, the NC Lottery Commission, regulator of the industry, has indicated that a launch before the 2024 Super Bowl on Feb.11 is off the table.

NCSharp projects that a March Madness 2024 launch could still happen, and that will mean a huge haul for the operators prepared to go live on day one.

Operators cannot deduct promo spend from tax bill in NC

As mandated by law, ESPN Bet North Carolina and other sportsbooks like FanDuel, DraftKings, and Caesars, will not be allowed to deduct their promotional spend from their tax obligation.

In other states where sports betting operators cannot deduct promo dollars, promo spending has been slightly lower. But the tax rate also plays a factor in deciding how much to spend on promo offers. For example, some sportsbooks diminished their promo spend in New York because of that state’s steep 50% tax rate.

North Carolina will tax sports betting revenue (GGR) at 18% for online sportsbooks. That figure is in line with many states, which generally range between 15-20%.

Taken as a whole, these factors shouldn’t diminish the promos ESPN Bet will offer North Carolinians as the larger goal will be securing a foothold high on the NC online sports betting ladder.

What kind of promo offers will ESPN Bet offer in NC?

We can only speculate on the North Carolina sports betting promo offer from ESPN Bet. If we go by what the sportsbook has offered in other states, it might look like this:

  • $250 bonus bet, split into five (5) bonus bets valued at $50 apiece. You earn this bonus bet promo if your first wager loses.

The $250 first bet bonus was offered by ESPN Bet in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Iowa. But we cannot be sure what Penn and ESPN Bet will have in store for the Tar Heel State in 2024.

ESPN Bet will have a presence beyond the app store in North Carolina: the company has partnered with Quail Hollow Club to be its official sports betting partner and the official sports betting sponsor of the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Open, which will be hosted in NC in 2024.

About the Author

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes writes about sports betting, sports media, and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.