Disney and legal sports betting

  • Disney will not take sports bets but is looking to partner with a third party to get into the sports betting market.
  • With stake in DraftKings, a deal with Caesars, and millions of subscribers, ESPN will be the push forward to help Disney.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – In 2019, Disney CEO Bob Iger made a strong stance against sports betting. They even helped in funding to oppose a gambling bill in Florida a year prior.

Nowadays, the thought of a Disney sports betting app is coming to fruition.

Disney owns roughly 80% of ESPN, who also wants to get into the legal sports betting game. On Monday, current Disney CEO Bob Chapek expanded on this mindset.

“Sports betting is a part of what our younger, say, under-35 sports audience is telling us they want as part of their sports lifestyle.”

Disney’s Intro Into Sports Betting

ESPN has made moves in the past to take this step forward. Aside from posting Caesars odds and having ESPN Chalk, they also have aired “Daily Wager” for years. Last week, a multi-year contract signed with Joe Fortenbaugh will keep that show on air.

“ESPN continues to invest in its sports betting content, and Joe will be a big part of that moving forward,” said Scott Clark, ESPN VP. “We are happy he is remaining with ESPN as we continue to ramp up our efforts around sports betting.”

Additionally, Disney owns a small stake in DraftKings.

Disney president Jimmy Pitario said that sports betting is “a must-have” and “something our fans are expecting from us.”

But, Chapek has made it clear it won’t be Disney accepting the bets.

“We’re going to need a partner to do that, because we’re never going to be a book, said Chapek. “That’s never in the cards for the Walt Disney Company. “But at the same time, to be able to partner with a well-respected third party can do that for us.”

Where Are They In The Process?

Disney is not ready to launch sports betting just yet. Yet, Chapek noted “we’re working very hard on [a sports betting app].”

As far as player acquisition, this is a huge talking point amongst legal US sportsbooks. But, ESPN holds 76 million streaming households. This could help gain followers in the legal sports betting market.

Like FanDuel and DraftKings, ESPN fantasy will transform those players into sports bettors. In fact, in a recent survey, nearly 3/4 respondents stated they would use the ESPN sportsbook.

But Disney isn’t looking just at US sports. In a recent deal, Disney partnered with the IPL to gain US support in international sports.

“In terms of sports betting, we have been in conversations for quite a long time now with a number of different platforms to add some utility to sports betting and take away some friction for that for our guests,” said Chapek.

Many believe ESPN sports betting could be active by 2024.

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