ESPN made its official entry into the sports betting world on Tuesday as it launched its ESPN Bet sportsbook app in several states. The sports media giant also announced a partnership with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and the school’s International Gaming Institute (IGI), to study and advance responsible sports betting practices and analyze the impact of the media on problem gambling.
In conjunction with the launch of ESPN Bet in 17 states, ESPN made a donation of $200,000 to UNLV to support research, education, and innovation in the responsible representation of sports betting in the media. This collaboration aims to develop a program dedicated to the study of the intersection of sports betting and the media.
ESPN Bet is a partnership between Penn Entertainment and the sports media conglomerate. Penn is paying ESPN $1.5 billion over the next 10 years to use the globally known ESPN brand. However, some state regulators have expressed concerns about consumers being able to differentiate between ESPN the media company and ESPN Bet the sportsbook.
Penn executives assured the regulators that ESPN Bet will not impact ESPN’s programming and that the network’s on-air personalities will maintain their journalistic integrity and continue to promote responsible gaming. They emphasized the importance of keeping insiders independent from ESPN Bet to ensure no connection between ESPN insiders and those handling risk and trading for Penn.
UNLV researchers at IGI will work on developing tutorials to educate media sector leaders on best practices in sports betting, including responsible gaming, marketing, advertising policies, broadcast standards, and risk management. ESPN’s vice president of corporate citizenship, Kevin Martinez, expressed the company’s commitment to ensuring that the world of sports betting is not only entertaining but also responsible.
ESPN Bet is launching in 17 states where Penn’s former online sportsbook, Barstool, was licensed. The platform is expected to be operational in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Penn is utilizing theScore mobile sportsbook platform to power ESPN Bet, and the launch comes just in time for a highly anticipated NFL game.