ESPN Bet, the sportsbook collaboration between Penn Entertainment and Disney-owned ESPN, launched Tuesday in 17 states. Hollywood Casino, billed as a “new casino experience,” is also available within the sportsbook app in four legal online casino states.
The launch followed the August announcement of a $2 billion, 10-year deal granting Penn rights to the ESPN brand last August. With the agreement, Penn will operate ESPN Bet, which ESPN will promote across its digital and broadcast properties.
With the late summer announcement, Penn parted ways with its previous sportsbook partner, Barstool Sports, and Barstool’s in-house lightning rod, Dave Portnoy.
Now Penn is banking on ESPN Bet to hold its own against established sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel, which dominate the space.
Speaking at ESPN’s Edge Conference on Nov. 9, Penn’s president and CEO, Jay Snowden, was optimistic.
We’re in this space to win. And when I say ‘we,’ that’s PENN, and that’s ESPN… we can stop speculating, and now we can finally say, you’ll see next week how much they care.
App Downloads Soar, But Jury Still Out
ESPN Bet went live on Nov. 14, around 3:30 p.m., after weeks of anticipation and some last-minute frustrations.
An hour before the app officially launched, one user on #GamblingTwitter (#GamblingX?) complained that ESPN Bet was late to its launch date.
However, once it hit the app stores, interest peaked, and the app quickly moved to the top of Apple’s app charts. While it’s far from hard data, app ranking offers insight into initial public interest.
According to SensorTower, an app-focused digital intelligence tool, at the time of writing, ESPN Bet is the overall number one “free app” on Apple’s all-category chart. The new sportsbook also sits atop the “free sports” app ranking.
However, the situation isn’t quite as rosy on the Android side.
While the Google Play store dictates over 10,000 ESPN Bet downloads, SensorTower shows the app has yet to crack the top 25 free downloads.
Still, as of this morning, ESPN Bet was absent from Google Play’s top free sports apps. It’s in third place a few hours later, just behind ESPN and Fox Sports.
ESPN Bet’s Long-Term Success Not Guaranteed
Downloads aside, whether ESPN Bet finds long-term success is far from settled.
Returning to #GamblingTwitter, early reviews run the gamut, with some users singing its praises over quick withdrawals and attractive bonuses. Meanwhile, others complain of locked accounts, inability to withdraw, and excessive play-through requirements.
It could be months or longer before we know if Penn’s $2 billion ESPN Bet bet pays out.
In the meantime, sports fans in 17 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, can get to know the new sportsbook.
The other 15 states with ESPN Bet on the sportsbook roster:
- West Virginia.
And, for those who prefer online casino games, Hollywood Casino is available in Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and West Virginia.