ESPN Bet Must Clear Hurdles Before Massachusetts Sports Betting Start

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Massachusetts sports betting

Penn Entertainment will need to answer questions before it can get approval to rebrand as ESPN Bet in the Massachusetts sports betting market, state regulators said during their Thursday public meeting. 

Penn has stated its timeline to rebrand from Barstool Sportsbook to ESPN Bet next month, with a mid-November launch possible. 

But that plan could be delayed in the Bay State, pending Massachusetts sports betting questions about ESPN’s College Gameday show, and its employees being prohibited from offering betting plays.

Penn will come to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission during its Nov. 2 public meeting with information on future plans.

Massachusetts sports betting orders

Penn indicated it could submit documentation to the MGC as early as next week. As part of its previous MA licensing pact, Penn agreed that no one under 21 was allowed to attend any of Barstool’s Live College Football shows. 

Penn could have a similar agreement as it pertains to ESPN’s College Gameday show. 

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien also delved into the potentially slippery slope of ESPN employees not being able to give picks. 

“You mentioned the college football show, and then also how they’re going to be drawing lines (where) you cannot have someone, obviously, who works for the entity and then is also recommending specific bets that are going to be on their platforms,” O’Brien said. 

“This was something (Penn) navigated with Barstool, and I’m curious to get the same information as it relates to the same branding relationship with ESPN Bet.”  

ESPN Bet to be judged like Barstool

Massachusetts regulators intend to judge ESPN-Penn in the same way as Barstool-Penn. 

Barstool faced scrutiny from the MGC over its branded “Can’t Lose Parlay,” which is it ultimately agreed to cease

“I’ll hold ESPN to the same standard as Barstool,” commissioner Jordan Maynard said. 

MA sports betting short timeframe

The MGC acknowledged the time crunch it faces, as the ESPN Bet rebrand is slated to occur in a short timeframe. 

ESPN and Penn will still have to gain clearance from state regulators before making the change in Massachusetts. 

The commission talked about possibly needing further discussion in a Nov. 7 meeting should this matter require further action.