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A view of the logo during ESPN The Party as we look at how big ESPN Bet will become.
A view of the logo during ESPN The Party. Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for ESPN/AFP.

ESPN BET will be putting its name on its first retail sportsbook in April, according to a press release Friday by PENN Entertainment and ESPN.

“The Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Greektown,” a PENN-owned property in Detroit, will be the first brick-and-mortar location for the new partnership after what has been a successful few months of operation for the ESPN BET mobile brand as it carves out a larger market share from the rest of our best sports betting sites.

“We’re thrilled to announce that our market-leading sportsbook Hollywood Casino at Greektown will debut as the first ESPN BET-branded sportsbook in our portfolio,” said Jay Snowden, PENN Entertainment CEO and President, in Friday's press release. “Together with ESPN, we look forward to expanding the ESPN BET brand with our premium retail sportsbooks and creating unique omni-channel experiences at key PENN properties across the country.”

Along with the retail sportsbook will come special events tied to the ESPN BET retail presence in Michigan sports betting. Included in that are events hosted by ESPN regional radio personalities.

Greektown a good start for ESPN BET

Hollywood Casino Greektown is the top retail sports betting destination in Michigan, a state which has consistently landed in the top 10 in the American market on the back of the high-performing Michigan sports betting apps.

Hollywood Casino accepted a reported $71.1 million in sports wagers in 2023 and had almost $6.7 million in gross gaming revenue last year. The hold rate for the facility was a respectable 9.5%.

ESPN BET looks to be set up for brick-and-mortar success in the Detroit market with its unparalleled brand recognition, flashy media presence, and its "unique omni-channel experience" to establish itself as one of the best sportsbooks in Michigan.

First of many for PENN, ESPN?

PENN Entertainment holds 32 retail sports betting licenses across the country. ESPN BET is poised to take over naming rights of many, if not all, of the brick-and-mortar facilities of those PENN properties.

The ESPN BET sportsbook at PENN's Hollywood Casino location in Greektown-Detroit will launch in April with 40 betting kiosks, 25 HDTVs, and a 30-foot video wall.

It will function as a template for PENN's transition away from the Barstool brand for retail sports wagering to what it hopes is a far more popular ESPN BET product.

Growing the ESPN BET brand

ESPN BET has gained a respectable market share since it launched in mid-November, ranking third in a few U.S. jurisdictions but still far off making a dent in the overall market share dominated by FanDuel and DraftKings

Retail sports wagering facilities are seen as just another tool to accomplish the goal of not only respectability but also success in the U.S. market.

“Growing the ESPN BET brand is essential in increasing our market share and ultimately reaching a podium position," Mike Morrison, Vice President ESPN BET and ESPN Fantasy, said of the impending retail launch. "Our commitment to that shows in a variety of ways from new markets to our first retail presence, and we cannot wait to open ESPN BET inside Hollywood Casino at Greektown for fans in Michigan ahead of some key sporting events."

ESPN BET hit a roughly 6.6% market share in Indiana and a 6.8% market share in Maryland in January - close to the 7% market share target the company has for its first year of operation. Any bit of exposure that PENN and ESPN BET received with its retail launch in Michigan could help achieve that goal moving forward.