PENN To Acquire Wynn NY Sports Betting License, To Roll Out ESPN Bet This Year

Written By Grant Lucas on February 13, 2024 - Last Updated on February 15, 2024
ESPN Bet logo over New York City skyline for a story on ESPN Bet joining NY sports betting landscape in 2024

New York may not be issuing more sports betting licenses. But the Empire State will soon have a brand new online sportsbook.

PENN Entertainment announced on Tuesday that it reached an agreement with Wynn Interactive Holdings to acquire the company’s sports wagering license in the state. As a result, and pending regulatory approvals, PENN will introduce ESPN Bet to the New York sports betting landscape in 2024.

How ESPN Bet makes its way to New York

As detailed in a press release, PENN acquired WSI US, LLC – the entity that holds the online sports betting license in New York – for $25 million. That total actually matches the amount paid by Wynn to initially obtain the license three years ago.

Serving as the replacement of sorts for Barstool Sportsbook, ESPN Bet has gone live in 17 jurisdictions. In 2024, if things go to plan, ESPN Bet NY will also enter the fold.

“This is an important development that will bring ESPN Bet to the largest regulated online sports wagering market in North America,” Jay Snowden, CEO and president of PENN Entertainment, said in a statement.

“Together with ESPN, we’re building a brand that is synonymous with sports betting, and operating in the New York market is key as we grow ESPN Bet across the US.”

After months – even years – of speculation, PENN takes over for Wynn

This transaction has been a long time coming, at least for Wynn.

In January 2022, Wynn Resorts began seeking potential buyers of its sports betting arm, setting the asking price at some $500 million.

At the time, WynnBet Sportsbook NY was about to launch in the Empire State. And at the time, it seemed as if Barstool, owned by PENN, could step in as a buyer.

Two years later, that scenario played out as scripted, albeit with ESPN Bet doing the stepping in.

The Wynn sale was not entirely unexpected in recent months, either, as the company shut down operations for online gambling in eight states in August. Wynn, however, kept its New York sportsbook operational despite low performance. Through January, WynnBet NY has accepted $216.4 million in bets en route to $10.65 million in gross gaming revenue – far below the initial licensing fee of $25 million.

During the latest earnings call for Wynn Resorts, CEO Julie Cameron-Doe addressed a question regarding the “opportunity to monetize or partner” the interactive business “in a shareholder-friendly way. Cameron-Doe noted how Wynn closed up shop in eight states and left New York and Michigan “under review.” She emphasized how the “strategic review” of those latter jurisdictions remained ongoing and to “stay tuned.”

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the managing editor for PlayNY. A longtime, award-winning sports writer, Grant has covered gambling and legal sports betting since 2018, when he got his start reporting on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania industries. He now oversees PlayNY as New York expands legalized gambling to sports betting and online casino gaming.

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