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The chairman of The Walt Disney Company does not see his company — which owns ESPN — getting into ‘facilitating gambling’ any time soon.
That came from Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger in fielding a question about sports betting in Disney’s most recent earnings call.
Here is what Iger said in response to Disney’s aspirations on sports gambling in the call:
I don’t see The Walt Disney Company, certainly in the near term, getting involved in the business of gambling, in effect, by facilitating gambling in any way.
I do think that there’s plenty of room, and ESPN has done some of this already and they may do more to provide information in coverage of sports, as a for instance, that would be relevant to and of particular interest to gambling and not be shy about it, basically being fairly overt about it. But getting into the business of gambling, I rather doubt it.
The comments come after a decent amount of rumors that ESPN had been poking around in aspects of the sports gambling business.
Clearly, ESPN and Disney will continue to try to capture eyeballs with sports betting-related content. Sports gambling is already a part of ESPN’s coverage on its website, and it comes up in TV productions in passing.
But what is the line in the sand past which ESPN won’t cross? ESPN at one point considered investing in DraftKings, back when it was only a daily fantasy sports site, only to instead opt for an advertising deal of $250 million. (That exclusive deal ended soon after it began.)
“Facilitating gambling” is a pretty wide net, so what does it mean?
In any event, it doesn’t seem like we’ll be seeing an ESPN Sportsbook any time soon.