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September 15, 2020

ESPN deepens sportsbetting ties with Caesars, DraftKings

DraftKings The DraftKings Sportsbook at Resorts in Atlantic City.

Bristol-based sports media empire ESPN is leaning further into sports gambling, announcing two separate multi-year deals with Caesars Entertainment Inc. and DraftKings Inc.

The deals will link ESPN’s web, mobile and app users directly to online sportsbetting sites run by DraftKings and Caesars’ sportsbook partner William Hill. 

ESPN studio shows will include daily fantasy sports segments featuring DraftKings branding. Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill will also become a sponsor of ESPN’s Fantasy products, according to the companies.

The deals make DraftKings and Caesars ESPN’s “exclusive daily fantasy sports and co-exclusive sportsbook link-out provider” and its “exclusive odds provider and co-exclusive sportsbook link-out provider,” respectively.

“Sports betting is quickly becoming endemic to the overall experience of the sports fan,” Mark Walker, ESPN's senior vice president of business and development, said in a statement.

ESPN said it will geo-target sportsbook links to users located in states that have legalized sports betting in the wake of a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has paved the way for potential nationwide sports betting.

ESPN’s home state of Connecticut, despite attempts in the legislature, is not yet among those that have authorized sports betting, even as nearby states like Rhode Island and New Hampshire have.

ESPN CEO James Pitaro has made gambling content a priority since he took the corner office there in 2018. 

The station last year launched Daily Wager, a 60-minute sportsbetting news and information program on ESPNEWS. The program was so well received, it was moved to ESPN2 a few months later, and has a Sunday morning edition.

ESPN parent Disney acquired an ownership stake in DraftKings in 2019 when Disney acquired 21st Century Fox.

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said the new partnership with ESPN should expand his Boston-based company's influence in the sportsbetting world

“ESPN’s reach amongst sports fans is unparalleled, and the start of NFL is the perfect time for DraftKings to be launching this integration,” Robins said.

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