Penn, ESPN Bet Have ‘Recipe For Success,’ Snowden Says

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Penn Entertainment and its new sports betting partner ESPN Bet know what it takes to gain a ‘podium position,’ according to Penn CEO Jay Snowden.

Snowden said Penn knows the “recipe for success” to be a top-tier US sports betting operator at the Bank of America Securities 2023 Gaming and Lodging Conference Fireside Chat Thursday morning:

“You have to have a brand that has got a ton of equity with sports fans, is very relevant, has an extremely broad reach, is mainstream and has been around for a while. So, we know that that’s the case for sure.

“You also have to have best-in-class product, that’s super clear, and I think that’s become abundantly clear as we’ve seen market share continue to consolidate at the top and the two at the top right now definitely have had the best product and continue to iterate and innovate on that product.”

ESPN Bet a better fit than Barstool

Penn is making a major move to an ESPN Bet brand after moving on last month from a bumpy relationship with Barstool Sports.

Barstool’s reach never materialized as Penn hoped. While Barstool reportedly had 66 million users when Penn bought its initial stake in the company, just 1.5 million of those joined Penn’s database by the time it ended its relationship with Barstool last month.

ESPN, meanwhile, just announced an all-time record of 11.6 million players signed up for season-long fantasy football.

Snowden happy with November launch

ESPN Bet will not go live until sometime in November. That means missing the beginning of NFL betting season, though Snowden does not see that as all bad.

“I also think the time of year that we’re launching, mid-season, is actually great. … I think we’re going to be able to make a lot of noise, get a lot of attention. And you’re coming in at a point in the year where people have probably burned through most of their free bet promos and deposit matches and so to be able to sort of reload mid-year with a new app and new experience that’s fully integrated with ESPN, I think that speaks to top of funnel.

“And based on what we’re seeing in Ontario and all the enhancements we continue to make on the product we feel really good about our ability to retain once we get people to the top of the funnel.”

Snowden’s allusion to Ontario references Penn’s relaunched app, built from technology acquired in its purchase of theScore.

ESPN Bet change pushes back profitability timeline

Penn’s $2 billion deal with Disney, which is 75% cash and 25% stock warrants, means Penn essentially starts fresh on the push to profitability.

Snowden expects profitability to start to show in 2025.