Sports | June 14, 2021 12:38 pm

ESPN “All-In” on Sports Betting and May Open a Sportsbook

The Worldwide Leader in covering sports may expand into wagering on 'em

The ESPN logo
The ESPN logo on a banner before the Fiesta Bowl.
Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty

The Worldwide Leader in covering sports is reportedly also “all-in” on wagering on ’em and may open up its own brick-and-mortar sportsbook in the near future, according to Front Office Sports.

Headquartered in Connecticut, which just legalized sports betting and could have wagering on sports set up in time for the fall NFL season, ESPN could possibly even open its own branded sportsbook near its base of operations in Bristol.

“Everything’s now on the table at ESPN,” a source told FOS. “They’re exploring everything.”

While ESPN has been cutting corners and trimming talent in many areas, the company has been beefing up its gambling coverage over the past year and inked separate multiyear deals with DraftKings and Caesars Entertainment (which is a partner with William Hill) in the fall.

“With Caesars utilizing odds from William Hill’s sports betting data, we are able to deliver content in new and innovative ways,” Mike Morrison, ESPN’s vice president of business development and innovation, said at the time. “Our multi-dimensional relationship is a testament to the growth and opportunity in the sports betting space.”

There’s no guarantee ESPN will follow through on the idea of opening its own branded book as a sportsbook bearing the brand’s famous four letters would certainly test the family-friendly focus of its parent company Walt Disney Co., but a Worldwide Leader wagering site might prove too lucrative to pass up.

On the other hand, ESPN may be able to secure many of the same financial benefits via strategic partnerships with organizations that are already associated with sports betting.

“Not hurrying would seem to be the right call and in the future you can enter into larger deals where you don’t have to take as much risk to get the benefit of ownership without the headache of operations and assumptions about future market segment size,” media consultant Patrick Crakes told FOS. “There’s precedent here on the radio side of the business, for example, with FOX Sports Radio. It’s a license deal with Premier Radio Networks but is also a revenue share above a certain level of defined net operating income.”