The House of Mouse may someday house a sportsbook. While a lot of work would need to be done to make that a reality, the idea is no longer beyond the company’s limits, according to Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
On a recent earnings call, Chapek alluded to gambling being part of the company’s future. He didn’t share any specific details about what that will look like but did confirm the company has fully shifted on principle.
Disney CEO says company is ready to get its ears wet
According to Daniel Kline of The Street, Chapek is leading Disney toward embracing gambling as part of its business.
“While multiplatform television and streaming will continue to be the foundation of sports coverage for the immediate future, we believe the opportunity for The Walt Disney Company goes well beyond these channels,” Chapek stated. “It extends to sports betting, gaming, and the metaverse.”
Chapek sees sports betting at the very least as a way to frame new content for audiences.
“In fact, that’s what excites us, the opportunity to build a sports machine akin to our franchise flywheel that enables audiences to experience, connect with, and become actively engaged with their favorite sporting events, stories, teams, and players,” he said.
Chapek wouldn’t commit to whether that would involve a Disney-branded sportsbook in the future or a retail sportsbook on the site of one of its North American parks. That’s still largely out of the company’s hands, though, as legal sports betting isn’t happening in either California or Florida.
If that changes, it might be something the company considers. Some avenues to potentially make that happen very quickly already exist.
ESPN connections with sportsbooks could facilitate expansion
Over the past two years, ESPN has struck content deals with Caesars and DraftKings. To date, that has mostly involved the inclusion of betting markets from those two operators in ESPN content.
That deal makes Disney creating an ESPN-branded book from scratch more precarious. Such a product would be a competitor to both Caesars and DraftKings. It’s uncertain whether Disney wants to take on the expense as well.
Disney could instead give those two brands a bigger footprint at their parks, should laws allow. It could also incorporate ways to access those online sports betting platforms through its digital content.
The possibilities are wide open with this new approach to gambling Chapek has spoken about. For Disney, Tomorrowland includes getting its hands into sports betting in a greater way.