ESPN Bet Parlays Draw Focus From Penn Interactive Division

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The engineers and developers at Penn Interactive have one main job until football season: improve the parlay options on ESPN Bet.

“We know that’s the gap right there,” Penn CEO Jay Snowden said at a JP Morgan forum Thursday in Las Vegas.

The gap Snowden alluded to is the one between ESPN Bet and the top two operators, FanDuel and DraftKings, which both have robust parlay offerings.

As for the Disney side of the $2 billion partnership, the main focus is on the integration between the ESPN app and the sportsbook.

ESPN Bet not getting ‘fair share’

While it is still early days since ESPN Bet launched in mid-November, there is already some “pretty compelling” data, Snowden said.

Snowden encouraged everyone to get access to data intelligence and analytics provider Sensor Tower, which does not list pricing but according to research, appears to offer enterprise subscriptions beginning at more than $10,000. The data shows “remarkably consistent” weekly active users for ESPN Bet, Snowden said, with a user share in the mid- to high-teens.

That said, the app is not getting its “fair share of handle and spend per user,” he added.

“That makes sense to me because we know that the product that people want, 60% of bets are on parlays,” Snowden explained.

SGP not as important without football?

The good thing for Penn is that same-game parlays are not as important in non-football months, Snowden said.

Weekly active users improved once the Super Bowl was over, which he said supports that idea. March Madness betting, for example, will have more traditional parlays than same-game parlays, given the many betting options during the tournament.

While parlays are important, those 60% of bets account for 30% of handle, Snowden added.

New interactive VP chosen

Penn already picked the successor to Benjie Levy, Snowden said, adding the person already weighed in on ESPN Bet’s product roadmap.

Snowden did not say when the new interactive VP would start. Levy will step down from his position in April.

The selected person has a strong background in building “world-class” digital products, Snowden said.

ESPN Bet about building iGaming database

While Penn is focused on improving its sportsbook product, that is hopefully not the end journey for those customers, Snowden said.

“There’s no better way to drive an online casino business than a very robust online sports betting database,” he said.

The ESPN Bet customer is “not surprisingly” a little older than the typical sportsbook customer, Snowden said. They are sometimes more familiar with the casino side than the sports betting side.

The challenge right now is the fact there is no standalone online casino app, so the cross-selling message gets a bit muddied when telling customers to go play casino games on the ESPN Bet app, Snowden said. The Hollywood Casino standalone gaming app should be available in the next 12 months.

NY move based on iGaming

Snowden previously said that no one will make money in New York right before the intiial winners of those NY sportsbook licenses were announced, with Penn and Barstool left on the outside looking in.

With ESPN aboard, Penn decided it should be in New York and bought Wynn‘s license for $25 million. Breakeven in New York is probably the best case, he told the forum, but the move has bigger ambitions than just an online sportsbook.

It is important to be in New York simply from a database-building standpoint ,as that will be ESPN Bet’s “biggest asset,” Snowden said. The other part is the potential for iGaming legalization in the state, he added.