PlayUSA Rewind: Is ESPN Getting Into The Sports Betting Business?

Posted By Nicholaus Garcia on September 2, 2021

This is the last PlayUSA Rewind before we dive headfirst into the 2021 NFL Season. So let’s soak it up before we’re drowning in football content.

This week, ESPN flirts with the idea of sports betting, DraftKings is the new king in Oregon, and the World Series of Poker is requiring proof of vaccination.

For even more coverage, be sure and follow @VisitPlayUSA | @reporternickg | @brantjames for all the latest insights.

On the rewind:

Is ESPN getting into the sports betting industry?

ESPN — The World-Wide Leader in Sports — is exploring the possibility of lending its brand to sports betting companies for a massive $3 billion.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the sports-media giant, owned by Walt Disney, has had conversations with Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings. A deal would allow a company to use the ESPN name for branding purposes and potentially open an ESPN Sportsbook.

Although ESPN has been hesitant about entering the sports betting market, it has integrated sports betting content into its broadcast, even creating its own betting show, Daily Wager.

The takeaway: As of right now, there is no guarantee a deal will be struck. However, the fact that ESPN is exploring this idea is pretty significant. In 2019, the Seminole Tribe and Walt Disney financed a political committee to prevent the expansion of gambling in Flordia.

Oregon Lottery switches betting platform to DraftKings

It’s official, the Scoreboard betting app in Oregon is out, and DraftKings is in.

The Oregon Lottery Commission unanimously approved the switch, ushering in a new era of sports betting in Oregon.

Unfortunately for those betting on the Scoreboard app, they will have to create new DraftKings Sportsbook accounts. OR sports betting was legalized in August 2019, with the first and only mobile sports betting app launching in October of the same year.

So far, there is only one retail sportsbook in the state located at Chinook Winds, a tribal gaming property.

The takeaway: Originally, the Scoreboard platform was powered by SBTech. If you recall, SBTech was acquired by DraftKings, which merged with Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corporation to become a publically traded company. Thus, the platform switch was inevitable.

Another record-breaking month for Nevada gaming

Two months ago, Nevada gaming broke a 14-year record by recording $1.23 billion in gaming revenue. Now, NV casinos have done it again.

This time, the 312 licensed casinos combined for $1.36 billion in gaming revenue for July.

According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, slot machines once again fueled the strong month bringing in $873.6 million. Table games, on the other hand, netted $486.2 million in gross gaming revenue.

A more specific breakdown includes:

  • Craps – $42.2 million
  • Roulette – $46.5 million
  • Blackjack – $122.2 million
  • Baccarat – $160.1 million

Additionally, Nevada sports betting handle was $410 million. 

The takeaway: Nevada casinos continue to perform even as cases in COVID-19 continue to surge. According to state data, Nevada is experiencing 800 new daily cases of COVID-19, including a 15.3% positivity rate in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located.

Barstool expected to join Tennessee sports betting market

The Tennessee Education Lottery is scheduled to consider applications for two new betting operators, one of which is expected to be the Barstool Sportsbook.

In early August, Barstool parent company Penn National Gaming said it had plans to launch in five states before the end of the year. So far, it has launched in Colorado, New Jersey, and Virginia.

The company gained access to the AZ sports betting market through a partnership with Phoenix Raceway. Sports betting in Arizona is expected to launch on Sept. 9.

Tennessee will be the final stage in the company’s five-state conquest for 2021.

The takeaway: Barstool is quietly making a name for itself. With the addition of the five mentioned states, Barstool is also live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Penn National is also part of a superbid to potentially operate New York sports betting. It has been a busy year for the company. Don’t expect them to slow down in 2022.

WSOP adds vaccination requirement for participants

The 2021 World Series Poker will require all participants to prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Per the WSOP website, “In order to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ you must receive your final vaccine dose at least 14 days prior to your entry date.”

Additionally, a negative COVID-19 test will not be accepted. The event, which is scheduled to begin in September, will be held at the Rio Hotel and Casino.

The takeaway: Not only is this a step in the right direction, but organizers also made it clear that those attending will also be required to wear a face mask. Nevada is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases forcing events like the WSOP to take extra health and safety measures.

Market Teasers

Featured on Market Teasers this week are a pair of heavy hitters. DraftKings is riding high after it was selected to run Oregon sports betting. On the other hand, Walt Disney is weighing its options when it comes to entering the sports betting landscape.

DraftKings Inc.

$DKNG | $59.73 | 0.82% change

  • A WSJ press release has notified shareholders of a class-action lawsuit against DraftKings filed by Levi & Korsinsky, LLP. The release states that SBTech, which was acquired by $DKNG, had a history of unlawful operations exposing DraftKings to dealings in “black-market gaming.”

Walt Disney Co.

$DIS | $181.43 | 0.81% change

  • As we mentioned, Walt Disney is exploring the idea of licensing its ESPN brand to sports betting companies. The price tag is $3 billion. Will there be any bites? The odds say yes.

** Market Teasers is not financial advice, nor am I a financial advisor. All figures were taken on August 31 at market close.

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Remember to follow @VisitPlayUSA | @reporternickg | @brantjames for even more insights.

Photo by Jon Super / Associated Press
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick has had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C., writing about politics, financial markets, and sports betting. He graduated from Texas Tech University and completed his master's degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

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