ESPN BET Screen grab: ESPN BET

It’s been almost three months since ESPN launched its sportsbook app, ESPN Bet. And while the app is still in relative infancy, Penn Entertainment, which owns and operates ESPN Bet, has elected to cement its foothold in the tri-state area.

According to Business Wire, Penn Entertainment has purchased WynnBet’s mobile sports gambling license in New York for $25 million. The mobile sports wagering licenses were previously issued by the New York State Gaming Commission to WynnBet in 2021.

“This is an important development that will bring ESPN BET to the largest regulated online sports wagering market in North America,” PENN Entertainment CEO Jay Snowden said in a press release. “Together with ESPN, we’re building a brand that is synonymous with sports betting, and operating in the New York market is key as we grow ESPN BET across the U.S.”

ESPN licensed its brand to Penn Entertainment in August 2023 after the gaming operation ended its partnership with Barstool Sports and what once was the Barstool SportsBook. ESPN Bet launched in all states where Barstool Sportsbook was in operation, subject to final approval from the individual states where sports betting is legal.

Barstool Sportsbook was not granted a license by the state of New York, partly because of founder and owner Dave Portnoy’s erratic behavior. In explaining Barstool’s split with Penn Entertainment, which saw Portnoy buy back his company for $1, he said via Variety that Barstool Sportsbook was denied a gambling license because of him while admitting that the regulated industry is probably not the best place for Barstool Sports and the type of content they make.

Barstool Sports agreed to a non-compete clause with former owner Penn, which lasted until after Super Bowl LVII. Barstool officially announced its multi-year partnership with DraftKings within minutes of the Kansas City Chiefs completing their 25-22 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Meanwhile, for Penn, ESPN Bet could do what Barstool Sportsbook could not. According to reports, ESPN Bet will launch in New York later this year, subject to approval from the New York Gaming Commission.

As for WynnBet, it had struggled to gain a foothold among sports bettors nationwide since its launch.

In 2023, WynnBet ceased its online sports betting operations in Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Earlier this week, the company also announced that it would be discontinuing its business activities in Massachusetts.

The New York Post notes that the company still owns physical sportsbooks in Nevada and Massachusetts. At the same time, it operates online sportsbooks in just three states: Arizona, Michigan, and New York. And that New York one is about to go away if this deal goes through.

Once this transaction is approved by the New York Gaming Commission, New York will be the 18th state in which ESPN Bet can legally operate.

[Business Wire, New York Post]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.