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ESPN Bet Highlights the Intersection between Sports, Entertainment & Betting

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ESPN Bet Highlights the Intersection between Sports, Entertainment & Betting

 

In a move that has felt inevitable for some time, ESPN has joined forces with PENN Entertainment and entered the world of sports betting, rebranding the popular Barstool brand as ESPN Bet in the process.

The entertainment world has been flirting with sports betting for some time now, but as the recent failure of FOX Bet showed, it is not always plain sailing. ESPN, however, feels like a very different beast to FOX, and with the power of Disney behind it, failure does not feel likely.

ESPN is one of the biggest sports broadcasters and brands in the world. It has a huge influence over the 21-40 male demographic, which will be key to its success in the gambling world. Any company attempting to succeed needs to understand the kind of content and services this demographic is looking for, and ESPN feels perfectly placed to deliver on this.

The move also continues to move the sports betting world into the mainstream, with ESPN’s reach being significantly bigger than any other industry brand.

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At SGG Media, we believe the way people interact with sports and the way they bet is evolving, and this move perfectly highlights this. Betting has become essential to the matchday experience, and for many it has just as much a part of the day as their pre-match beer and catch-up with their buddies or checking out the team news.

The way sport is consumed has changed. Attend any sports game, whether it is NBA, NFL, NHL, or even your local minor-league teams, and you will see people regularly checking their phones to keep up to date with the game’s statistics and, in many cases, placing in-game bets.

ESPN will now be bringing that to people’s homes. Betting, odds updates, and contests have become a regular part of sports broadcasts, and this deal could give to all sorts of new and innovative content. This continued intersection between sports, entertainment, and betting is only going to get closer, and ESPN has stepped into the game at the opportune moment.

Talking of opportune moments, the move comes just months after ESPN announce cost-cutting lay-offs. The injection of cash from this deal will be significant, and as the company deals with the ever changing viewing and TV landscape, the betting industry will provide a whole never revenue stream.

Of course, questions will be raised over ESPN’s impartiality with sports betting and how it will impact their product. A portion of their press-release was dedicated to their continued commitment to journalistic integrity, ensuring bettors and viewers that the merging of the two products will be seamless.

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A quick glance across the Atlantic can give you an indication of how effective a sports broadcaster delivering its own sports-book product can be. Skybet in the UK is one of the most used sportsbooks in the country, and it has been able to blend effortlessly into Sky Sport’s broadcasts.

It has also been able to use clever promotions, such as its ‘Super 6’ prediction competition which it ties in cleverly with its coverage This has also helped to build a community around the sportsbook, tapping into the potential of that target demographic by encouraging them to partake in free-to-play leagues and tournaments with friends. Access to communities is essential in the modern sports betting environment, and it is something we have personally placed at the front of our micro-influencer marketing model.

Disney’s presence in this deal is a huge talking point. The House of Mouse has sent mixed signals about wanting to be involved in betting over the years, but ESPN provides them with the perfect vehicle. The early optics for the move have also appeared steady, with no indication of public backlash over Disney’s involvement.

The other part of this puzzle is Barstool being returned to its owner, Dave Portnoy. Once again, this is a smart move for everybody, Barstool has always been a disruptor, and its business strategy and ethos was never suited to being part of a publicly traded company. Portnoy himself has been a controversy magnet and it seems unlikely Disney or ESPN would want to be too heavily associated with the Barstool brand.

ESPN and Disney entering the iGaming space could kick start a new era of sports betting in the United States. The perfect cocktail of sports, betting, and entertainment coming together to create new content and opportunities for the industry.

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MGM Resorts Named a Proud Partner of the New York Yankees

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MGM Resorts International announced a new partnership designating MGM Resorts as a “Proud Partner of the New York Yankees”.

The two organizations will collaborate to deliver exclusive VIP experiences to MGM Rewards members and baseball fans, including the opportunity to watch batting practice from the warning track and throw out a ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium. MGM Resorts will also have brand placement at Yankee Stadium on LED signage, first and third base rotational signage, and its logo appearing on the back of the pitcher’s mound during live local television broadcasts of select games.

“We remain committed to investing in the community, while collaborating with the New York Yankees to provide unparalleled experiences for baseball fans. Our company has owned and operated Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway for the past five years. As we continue working to secure a full commercial casino license at Empire City, this partnership allows us to further develop these properties to their potential, while providing the world-class hospitality guests have come to expect from the MGM Resorts brand,” Bill Hornbuckle, CEO & President of MGM Resorts, said.

“We are excited to partner with MGM Resorts this season. Through branding displayed on signage inside Yankee Stadium and integrated into our television broadcasts, the MGM Resorts brand will only see increased exposure and recognition for its resort and casino properties— especially for the nearby Empire City Casino,” Michael Tusiani, SVP of Partnerships at New York Yankees, said.

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As this partnership moves forward, MGM Resorts’ Empire City Casino plans to host New York Yankees-themed fan activities and experiences involving active Major League Baseball players, as well as alumni.

Ed Domingo, President and COO of MGM Resorts’ Empire City Casino, said: “This alliance with the Yankees allows us to create unique and engaging opportunities for guests and baseball fans alike. Empire City sits less than two miles from the Bronx border and is not only the gaming entertainment destination of choice for Bronxites, but also the longtime employer of hundreds of team members who call the Bronx home. We are well positioned to significantly increase that number when a full-scale commercial casino license is secured.”

In November 2018, MGM Resorts and Major League Baseball formed a wide-ranging and groundbreaking partnership in the US and Japan, designating MGM Resorts as the first “Official Gaming Partner of MLB” and “Official Entertainment Partner of MLB”. Additionally, MGM Resorts has been an “Official Partner of MLB Players Inc” since 2022.

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Super Group Announces Exit from U.S. Sportsbook Markets

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Super Group, the parent company of Betway, a leading online sports betting and gaming business, and Spin, the multi-brand online casino, announced that, following the completion of an extensive internal review, the company intends to undertake an exit plan for its sportsbook product in the US.

The company, along with relevant regulators and partners, will shortly begin the process to fully close its U.S. sportsbook operations in the nine states in which it is currently live. Super Group will, however, maintain its iGaming presence in the US and plans to operate two iGaming brands from its Spin portfolio (including Jackpot City) in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Chief Executive Officer Neal Menashe said: “As a global business, we constantly evaluate the optimal use of our resources across all markets in which we operate. We have recently concluded an extensive review of our U.S. operations and, at present, we do not see a long-term path to profitability for the sportsbook product.

“The vast majority of Super Group’s revenue is generated in iGaming and, in line with that strategy, we will continue to offer our leading casino product in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We are open to expanding our U.S. footprint if the right investment or strategic opportunities arise.”

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Funds Advised by Apax Partners LLP Fully Exit their Equity Position in Genius Sports

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Genius Sports Limited announced that Funds advised by Apax Partners LLP (Apax Funds) have fully monetized their equity interest in Genius Sports and no longer holds any shares in the Company. The Apax Funds first acquired a majority interest in Genius Sports in September 2018 and have supported the Company through a period of transformational growth over the last six years.

“Apax has been a tremendous partner to Genius Sports, and we are grateful for their valuable insight and expertise over the last six years. Today marks the conclusion of a very successful partnership, and we look forward to welcoming this next chapter with the ongoing support of our high-quality institutional shareholders,” Mark Locke, Co-Founder and CEO of Genius Sports, said.

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