ESPN has issued sports betting guidelines to its employees as it readies to launch ESPN Bet in 17 states today.
The guidelines do not mention ESPN Bet or the network’s operating partner, PENN Entertainment. They spell out prohibited betting-related activities and areas of caution for ESPN’s nearly 5,000 employees, in line with what some regulators requested.
While ESPN previously partnered with other gambling companies like Caesars and DraftKings in the past, this is the network’s first set of betting-related employee guidelines available for public reference.
ESPN Bet employee guidelines
Prohibited betting activities include:
- Disclosing confidential or non-public information that you have been exposed to as part of your job, such as a player’s injury status.
- Placing bets on games or events you are assigned to work or cover. This applies but is not limited to production personnel and journalists.
- Reporters and Insiders may not place, solicit or facilitate bets on leagues or sports they regularly cover. This also applies to employees who manage the company’s business relationships with those properties.
- No illegal gambling in any form, including on offshore sportsbooks and in states where sports betting is not legal.
The guidelines also urge caution around bets like draft selections and awards that “are more susceptible to the influence of Confidential Information because the outcomes are primarily determined by off-field decisions rather than on-field play.”
They go on to emphasize that “no story should be reported, delayed, influenced or withheld with the intention of impacting betting lines.”
Media outlets, sportsbooks entangled
The relationships between journalism enterprises and bookmakers continue to attract more scrutiny as companies like ESPN lease their name and audiences to bookmakers like Penn.
Massachusetts sports betting regulators asked Penn for the guidelines before approving the company’s license transfer from Barstool Sportsbook earlier this month.
FanDuel partner Shams Charania, an NBA Insider for The Athletic, sparked controversy earlier this year after an erroneous report swung draft betting lines. The sportsbook defended that relationship, maintaining that it is not privy to any insider information Charania has before he tweets it.