PENN Confident It Can Thrive In NY With ESPN Bet Launch In Fall 2024

Written By Grant Lucas on February 20, 2024 - Last Updated on February 21, 2024
PENN Entertainment CEO Jay Snowden looks to launch ESPN Bet sportsbook in New York by the 2024 football season

It became official last week. Now the waiting game begins for the launch of ESPN Bet in New York.

But when can bettors in the Empire State expect to have access to the nascent sportsbook?

If projections from PENN Entertainment CEO Jay Snowden are any indication, the NY sports betting market will have to remain patient until the 2024 football season.

Still, as Snowden said during PENN’s recent earnings call, the company expects big things from the platform once it does go live, not only in New York but also in North Carolina.

“While the economic model in New York is indeed challenging, we look forward to bringing ESPN Bet to the largest regulated online sports wagering market in North America. These 2 new jurisdictions will be extremely efficient for us.”

ESPN Bet coming to New York in fall 2024

In November 2023, ESPN Bet officially began launching as the replacement for PENN’s previous sportsbook, Barstool. Currently, ESPN Bet operates in 17 states, including in nearby New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

PENN has shown a somewhat aggressive expansion strategy, culminating in last week’s acquisition of Wynn’s New York sports betting license for $25 million, allowing the launch of ESPN Bet NY come fall 2024.

“This is an important development that will bring ESPN Bet to the largest regulated online sports wagering market in North America,” Snowden said at the time. “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.”

As Snowden then said during PENN’s earnings call, the company held three primary goals for ESPN Bet over the platform’s first few months of existence: successful launch, growth, unique experience for users.

“So far,” Snowden said, “we’re off to a great start on all three and have built a tremendous foundation for our upcoming launches in New York, North Carolina and beyond.”

Can ESPN Bet thrive in New York?

The timing of PENN’s planned launch for ESPN Bet NY sportsbook should come as no surprise. Football season, of course, represents the busiest time of year for legal sportsbooks nationwide.

In New York, the last four months of 2022 and 2023 have combined for $13.9 billion in handle and $1.2 billion in NY sports betting revenue. Combine that with the first ($12.8 billion/$984 million) and middle ($8.6 billion/$814 million) periods of the year.

But it’s not only about timing for ESPN Bet. As Lloyd Danzig, a gambling investor and CEO of Sharp Alpha Advisors, told Legal Sports Report, “the success of ESPN Bet hinges on both effective marketing and a compelling product.”

“It remains uncertain whether ESPN Bet can gain significant market share at the expense of established competitors who currently hold stronger product loyalty and affinity among users.”

As it stands, ESPN Bet has accounted for around 7% of online sports betting handle nationwide since going live at the end of 2023. For perspective, FanDuel and DraftKings have combined for about 71% with fewer promotions.

New York becomes more challenging for Penn, according to Jordan Bender, a senior equity research analyst at Citizens JMP Securities, given that PENN does not operate any casinos or racetracks in the Empire State.

“With no competitive advantage in New York,” Bender said, “we do not see it overperforming or underperforming its current market share of mid-to-high single digits once it launches later this year.”

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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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