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Jimmy Pitaro: ESPN Has No Plans To Launch Sportsbook

  • ESPN is "not interested in being a place where people place their bets."
  • The Disney-owned network and DraftKings are reportedly close to signing an exclusive deal.
ESPN will leave its Caesars-owned Las Vegas content studio.
Scott Clarke / ESPN Images

Disney-owned ESPN won’t be launching its own sportsbook after all. 

“We just don’t feel like it’s appropriate for us to be creating a book,” ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said at Axios’ BFD summit. “We’re not interested in being a place where people place their bets.” 

ESPN’s reluctance to launch a sportsbook comes after the media giant appeared to be “all-in” on sports betting, as sources told Front Office Sports in 2021. The company hired sports betting analysts Tyler Fulghum and Joe Fortenbaugh to bolster its “Daily Wager” sports betting show.

At Disney’s D23 Expo in September, CEO Bob Chapek publicized ESPN’s sports betting efforts, claiming Disney was “working very hard” on developing an ESPN sports betting app. 

Now, ESPN is going in a different direction. 

ESPN and DraftKings are reportedly close to signing an exclusive deal after the sports network secured co-exclusive deals with Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings in 2020. 

“Specific terms of this deal are unknown, but the deal is a massive, exclusive partnership that will have shows and perhaps odds integrated into game broadcasts,” according to The Action Network.

Disney owns roughly 5% of DraftKings after purchasing more than 18 million shares in 2020.

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