Disney CTO Leaves One Side Of ESPN Bet Partnership For The Other, Joins Penn

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Penn Entertainment did not have to look far beyond its ESPN Bet partner to hire a new head of interactive.

Penn brought on Aaron LaBerge as its chief technology officer to oversee the company’s interactive division. His hiring is effective July 1.

LaBerge spent more than 20 years with the Walt Disney Company, most recently as president and CTO of Disney and ESPN. He replaces Benjie Levy, who joined when Penn acquired theScore in 2021 for $2 billion.

Penn CEO Jay Snowden noted in March that the new interactive head had been selected and had already weighed in on the ESPN Bet roadmap.

Main focus to boost ESPN Bet parlays

Getting a deeper parlay product in time for NFL betting season is the main focus, Snowden said.

Snowden said ESPN Bet’s current parlay offering is “the gap” between ESPN Bet and sports betting leaders DraftKings and FanDuel.

A deeper selection for parlays will help ESPN Bet get more wallet share out of users, Snowden said. The app has had mid- to high-teens percentage of weekly active users, he added.

Snowden: no better candidate

Snowden said there was “no better candidate” to lead Penn’s interactive division.

“We are thrilled to have someone of Aaron’s caliber join our PENN executive team,” Snowden said. “Having overseen a global organization of thousands of engineers, product developers, designers, technologists, and data scientists that created some of the largest scale and most successful media properties in the world, there is no better candidate to lead our Technology and Interactive division into its future.

“I know Aaron is looking forward to working with Todd George, our head of operations, and our entire Executive Team to continue growing our position as a leader in online gaming, sports betting, and digital sports media.”

LaBerge ready to jump into ESPN Bet

LaBerge was a “key architect” in the design, development and engineering of ESPN’s state-of-the-art facilities and related infrastructure.

“I’m excited to join another talented team at PENN Interactive and lead our technology strategy,” LaBerge said. “PENN Entertainment is at the forefront of the fast-changing gaming and sports media industry.

“I plan to use my experience from Disney and ESPN to help make ESPN BET an essential piece of the sports fan experience. Together, we’ll push the limits and redefine how fans interact with sports and gaming.”