After rebranding its online sports platform through a deal with Disney’s ESPN, Penn National Gaming shared positive predictions for 2024 during an earnings call last Thursday.

The company plans to expand features on the ESPN Bet app. It also thinks the March debut of North Carolina sports betting looks promising.

ESPN Partnership Boosts Sign-Ups

In November, Penn soft-launched ESPN Bet in 17 states. This followed Penn’s $1.5 billion agreement giving it exclusive rights to use ESPN’s brand. Penn CEO Jay Snowden said ESPN Bet “resulted in much higher than expected registrations.” It brought over 1 million new members to Penn’s Play Rewards program, expanding its digital database by over 50%.

Snowden added, “We acquired as many first-time depositors and bettors in the first two months as we had anticipated we would generate in the first full year post-launch.”

More ESPN Bet Developments on the Horizon

Snowden credited growth in the ESPN Bet customer base to “adding new features and integrations.” No other sportsbook links directly to ESPN’s huge media presence.

Since January, ESPN Bet users can click straight from an ESPN Gamecast to place wagers. Snowden said Penn will now “focus more on product improvements” for areas like same-game parlays and live betting. He stressed that the ESPN Bet app already shows strong customer retention thanks to the trusted brands and smooth user experience. But there is still room for enhancement through deeper ESPN integrations in coming months.

Last week, Disney said it plans major digital promotions across ESPN channels to push its 26 million subscribers toward ESPN Bet.

Snowden emphasized Penn’s one-of-a-kind partnership with ESPN. He stated, “We are the only company in the industry that has a fully integrated sports media and sports betting platform.” Penn also has retail venues to encourage cross-promotion as its user base expands quickly.

According to Snowden, a new streaming bundle from Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery launching this fall presents an opportunity. More households gaining access to ESPN content means more chances to reach ESPN Bet.

North Carolina Launch Should Go Smoothly

Because of ESPN Bet’s early traction, Penn leaders expect the North Carolina sports betting debut on March 11 to go well.

“Our early success bodes well for our planned launches in North Carolina and New York this year,” noted Snowden. Via its Wynn Interactive acquisition, Penn secured a New York license last year for about $25 million. It plans to start operations there before the 2024 NFL season.

But Penn’s stock dropped this week despite the upbeat projections. That’s because wider losses also emerged in the earnings report. Snowden said greater promotional costs around the ESPN Bet introduction affected net income.

Which North Carolina Sportsbooks Are Due to Launch?

While we cannot guarantee anything this far in advance, certain big players look ready for North Carolina’s first sportsbook apps. Expected participants probably include:

Eager bettors can watch for North Carolina sports betting promos and bonuses from these sites as launch day approaches. For example, BetMGM may offer a special BetMGM North Carolina bonus code. Or operators might promise free bets or odds boosts to attract customers from day one.

✅ Fact Checked on February 24, 2024 by Ken Weaver