ESPN explores sports-betting deal worth at least $3B

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Disney-owned ESPN is looking to dip its toe in the sports-betting game.

The sports media giant is seeking to license its brand to major sports-betting companies for at least $3 billion over several years, according to a report Friday from the Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources.

The network has held talks with players that own major sportsbooks, including casino operator Caesars Entertainment and online gambling titan DraftKings, the publication reported. ESPN currently has marketing partnerships with both firms.

A rep for DraftKings told The Post: “DraftKings speaks to a variety of companies regarding various matters in the normal course of business and it is our general policy not to comment on the specifics of those discussions.”

ESPN and Caesars did not immediately respond for comment. It is not clear if the companies would forge ahead with a deal with ESPN as they are already invested in establishing their own brands in the world of sports betting.

But sources told The Journal that a deal with ESPN could come with an exclusive marketing commitment that would require the sports-betting company to invest a certain amount of money advertising on ESPN’s platforms.

Sports-betting is expected to bring in $4 billion in revenue in 2021, and ESPN is looking for a way in without being directly involved in betting transactions, sources said.
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ESPN has been hesitant to jump into the sports-betting space. It dabbled with partnerships to integrate odds and betting-related content into some of its shows, and it has podcasts and telecasts devoted to gambling, such as “Daily Wager.” Execs told The Journal that they want to keep ESPN from being directly involved in gambling deals.

Sports-betting is poised to generate revenue of roughly $4 billion in 2021, according to research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. The industry has exploded since a 2018 Supreme Court decision allowed states other than Nevada to legalize sports betting. Currently, 32 states and the District of Columbia have legalized wagering on sports.

–Additional reporting by Lydia Moynihan

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