ESPN Bet Bursts Into Maryland Sports Betting With Big Promo Spend

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Maryland sports betting

ESPN Bet, the Maryland sports betting newcomer in November, dished out plenty of promos during its first two weeks of operations in the Old Line State.

The latest state report released Monday shows $13 million in free bets for the app, nearly twice as much as any other Maryland sportsbook.

The big promotional spend helped boost handle to $33.3 million, the fourth-most of any Maryland sports betting app in November. It made up 6.2% of November’s $533.3 million record-setting statewide online handle.

ESPN Bet a nice bump over Barstool

Barstool Sportsbook, Penn Entertainment’s former sports betting partner, was accepting bets before the November 14 rebrand to ESPN Bet. The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency did not respond to questions about how much handle came in before the switch.

Using October’s daily average for Barstool as a guide, along with the marketwide 15% handle increase in November, it is plausible ESPN Bet accounted for about 86% of Penn’s monthly handle.

The combination of Barstool and ESPN Bet cleared $4.2 million in revenue behind a 12.5% hold. Any taxable revenue was eliminated by Maryland sports betting law, which allows operators to lower their tax bill by deducting promotional play.

Large spend on Maryland sports betting

Missing the traditional customer acquisition period at the start of NFL and college football betting in September because of its rebrand all but forced Penn Entertainment to spend heavily on promos.

ESPN Bet offered several hundred dollars in free play to entice new customers after it launched halfway through November. It also provided former Barstool Sportsbook customers bonus bets to stick with the newly rebranded platform.

Penn CEO Jay Snowden repeatedly said the mid-November launch would be a positive because bettors would likely be finished with promos received at the beginning of football season.

FanDuel tops MD sports betting

FanDuel topped the online market with 45% of handle at $241.7 million. It is the highest handle for the app since online wagering launched in Maryland in November last year.

FanDuel claimed $18.8 million in revenue before deducting $6.6 million in November bonus bets.

Other popular apps in Maryland

Bettors staked $165.9 million through the DraftKings Sportsbook app last month, giving the operator a 31% share of handle. DraftKings produced $13.4 million in revenue while offering $5.6 million in free play.

BetMGM took a 6.7% share of handle with $36 million and generated $2.7 million in revenue. BetMGM’s November financials were backed by $1.5 million in promotional spending.

Fanatics boosted its November handle, hitting $19 million. Fanatics has increased betting volume each month since opening its app for all customers in August.

Record-setting handle in November

Adding in-person wagering, total Maryland sports betting handle topped $550.7 million in November.

It was Maryland’s largest single-month total, surpassing the $497.1 million wagered in December 2022. Maryland sportsbooks combined for $41.6 million in revenue before deductions.

Promotional play reached $28.7 million, primarily driven by Penn’s spending. It was the most significant volume of free bet giveaways this football season, the first full season in Maryland with online sports betting.

Parlays, basketball leads Maryland sports betting

The most popular bet type for Maryland sports bettors in November was parlays.

Players staked $200.9 million on the combination bets last month, making up 36.5% of all betting. Maryland sportsbooks kept $26 million from parlay bets, by far the most of any bet type during the month.

In a slight departure from other states, basketball betting was a few million dollars more popular than NFL betting in November. Basketball bets accounted for $84.2 million, while NFL bets totaled $82.4 million.