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ESPN donates $200,000 to UNLV Gaming Institute for sports betting media analysis

ESPN officially enters the sports betting space today with the launch of its sports betting app, ESPN Bet, in multiple states.

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Apr 8, 2024
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ESPN donates $200,000 to UNLV Gaming Institute for sports betting media analysis

ESPN officially entered the sports betting space on Tuesday with the launch of its sports betting app, ESPN Bet, in multiple states.

As ESPN Bet debuts in 17 states, the sports media giant announced a partnership with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and its International Gaming Institute (IGI).ESPN is donating $200,000 to the program to advance responsible sports betting best practices and fund analysis of media influences on problem gambling.

"We are delighted to have ESPN's support for research, education and innovation to represent sports betting in the media in a responsible, sustainable way," said Brett Abarbanel, IGI Managing Director. "The topic of gambling has exploded in the U.S. media over the past five years. In addition to content distribution, there has been a call for expanded research and thought leadership."

The grant will help the school develop a “groundbreaking” project dedicated to studying the intersection between sports betting and media.

Brand Identity

ESPN Bet is a partnership between Penn Entertainment and sports media companies. The University of Pennsylvania will pay the sports broadcaster $1.5 billion over the next 10 years to use the globally recognized ESPN brand.

However, some state regulators are concerned that consumers can't see the line between media company ESPN and sports betting operator ESPN Bet. Penn executives say ESPN Bet's sports betting will have no impact on ESPN programming and that the cable network's on-air personalities will maintain journalistic integrity and continue to advocate for responsible gambling.

"The key is to ensure that ESPN Bet Insiders remains independent so that there is no connection between ESPN insiders, reports or newsrooms and anyone handling risks and transactions for Penn," said Chris Rogers, executive vice president of Penn Entertainment. Chief strategy officer told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission last week.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas IGI researchers will seek to develop tutorials to educate media executives on best practices for sports betting, including responsible gaming and marketing, advertising policies, broadcast standards and risk management .

ESPN Vice President of Corporate Citizenship Kevin Martinez said the $200,000 donation underscores the company's "commitment to ensuring the world of sports betting is not only entertaining, but also responsible."

ESPN Betting Begins

ESPN Bet launches Tuesday at various times in the 17 states where Barstool, the former University of Pennsylvania online sportsbook, is licensed. By Tuesday night, the platform is expected to be available in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio , Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia run.

Penn uses mobile sports betting platform theScore to power ESPN Bet. Penn acquired theScore in 2021 for $2 billion in cash and stock.Barstool Sportsbook also operates on theScore platform.

ESPN Bet is just in time for one of the biggest NFL games of the season, as the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. The Chiefs are three-point favorites in the second round of Super Bowl LLVII.

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