NEW YORK (AP) – ESPN Bet, a rebranded sports betting service named after the Disney-owned sports channel, launched Tuesday in 17 US states.
Penn Entertainment, which owns the service, a $1.5 billion deal was signed to ESPN for the rights to the sports media giant’s name in August. Under the agreement, Penn will operate ESPN Bet while ESPN promotes the app across its online and broadcast platforms.
A Penn spokesman said the ESPN Bet app was also scheduled to launch Tuesday afternoon, but did not provide a specific time.
ESPN Bet was to go 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.
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Under the August agreement, Penn’s rights to the ESPN brand will run for an initial ten years with the option to extend it for another 10 years. In addition to the $1.5 billion licensing deal, Penn also said it would grant ESPN rights worth about $500 million to buy shares in Penn.
ESPN Bet is a rebrand of an existing sports betting app, Barstool Sportsbook. In August, Penn said he sold Barstool Sports back to its founder Dave Portnoy.
Walt Disney Co.’s upcoming ESPN Bet launch could to enter uncharted waters. Disney is fiercely protective of its family-friendly image, which is not typically associated with the world of sports gambling.
At the time of the August agreement, ESPN said it will use its platforms “to educate sports fans about responsible gambling” – for example, by continuing to cover the sports betting industry with “journalistic integrity,” creating a “responsible gaming” committee within the company and developing marketing guidelines that “protect” fans.
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