ESPN Bet Set To Enter Colorado’s Competitive Sports Betting Market

Written By Hill Kerby on 11/07/2023 - Last Updated on February 21, 2024
Photo of a Welcome to Colorado sign with a ESPN Bet logo on a story about the sports betting app's impending launch in the state.

“The Worldwide Leader in Sports” will soon enter the Colorado sports betting discussion in a massive way.

ESPN Bet Colorado will launch on Tuesday, Nov. 14. It comes as the result of a partnership announced in August between Penn Entertainment and ESPN that brought about the rebranding from Barstool Sportsbook to ESPN Bet.

So, can the ESPN name propel the sportsbook to success in a highly competitive state like Colorado? We’re all about to find out.

Out with the old, in with the new

Penn’s deal with ESPN enabled it to move on from its affiliation with Barstool Sports. It originally purchased Barstool in 2020 and gained full control in 2023, hoping its investment would vault it into the discussion with other major sportsbook operators.

Instead, Barstool’s controversial content diminished its ceiling in a regulated Colorado online sports betting landscape. Penn pivoted, cut ties with Barstool and upped the ante with ESPN. Its deal came at a $1.5 billion price tag over 10 years and warrants to purchase 31.8 million shares in Penn stock, valued at another $500 million.

Then, it rebranded Barstool to ESPN Bet and sold the Barstool brand back to founder Dave Portnoy with an agreement for Barstool to exit sports betting permanently. Penn Entertainment CEO Jay Snowden said the launch is being timed to take advantage of a busy sports schedule.

“We are extremely excited to announce the planned launch of ESPN Bet prior to the active Thanksgiving week sports calendar that includes the NCAA college football rivalry week and the Super Bowl rematch of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles televised on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. ESPN Bet will be powered by our proprietary and proven technology platform, which continues to drive impressive performance in Ontario under theScore Bet brand for both online sports betting and iCasino.”

What Colorado bettors can expect from ESPN Bet

The ESPN Bet mobile app launch will officially mark the rebrand from the former Barstool Sportsbook. All Barstool users will be prompted to download the new ESPN BET app, and all user information will transfer upon logging in with the same credentials.

Bettors will have access to the same technology as the recently upgraded Barstool app, which offers user-friendly interface upgrades, faster speeds, exclusive offers and a full list of betting options that include:

  • Same-game parlays
  • Player props
  • Quick bets (micro-markets)
  • Featured bets

With the upgraded ESPN brand, Penn will reach a vast new audience, more expansive than its casino database and niche Barstool following could have dreamed of.

Snowden confirmed that Penn will utilize this advantage from the beginning, saying in his press release that “ESPN will be implementing an initial wave of exclusive integrations targeting their 200 million loyal fans across their linear and digital platforms.”

Users can look forward to upcoming advertising campaigns, including SportsCenter anchors Scott Van Pelt and Elle Duncan, and future integrations between ESPN’s media and sports betting outlets.

Furthermore, visitors to Ameristar Black Hawk can look for changes and upgrades to the former retail Barstool Sportsbook, which opened in November 2020. A sportsbook representative told PlayColorado that an official announcement should come soon.

ESPN Bet joins Colorado’s sizable sports betting market

Upon its launch, ESPN Bet will go live in 17 states, including Colorado, giving bettors in the Centennial State a considerable shake-up in what has been a competitive – and diminishing – market.

At its height, Colorado boasted 27 sportsbooks. It now has 19.

While no shuttered sportsbooks had a brand the size of ESPN, operators such as WynnBET, TwinSpires, Elite Sportsbook, MaximBet, TheScore Bet and others have called it quits in Colorado since July 2022.

The Colorado Division of Gaming does not break down sports betting revenue by individual operator. Regardless, Barstool was never a top-level earner for Penn amongst the likes of DraftKings Colorado and FanDuel Colorado.

Penn’s deal with ESPN will distinguish itself from competitors like BetMGM Colorado and Caesars Colorado, which run self-branded sportsbooks attached to their enterprises. In a similar fashion, Fanatics Sportsbook Colorado will look to target the market when it rebrands the PointsBet Sportsbook Colorado and integrates its database, rewards and apparel.

ESPN Bet is a bigger name than Fanatics, though, and will give Penn a shot at securing a top spot in the competitive Colorado sports betting market.

Photo by Shutterstock / Illustration by PlayColorado
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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby is a proponent of safe, legal betting, and is grateful to be able to contribute to growing the industry. He has a background in poker, sports, and psychology, all of which he incorporates into his writing.

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