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Jalen Brunson of the New York Knicks dribbles the ball, and we break down ESPN BET's entrance into New York.
Jalen Brunson of the New York Knicks dribbles the ball. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images via AFP.

PENN Entertainment and its partnership with ESPN BET finally gained much-needed market access in the highly coveted New York sports betting scene.

On Tuesday, it was announced that PENN has agreed to acquire the mobile sports betting license that Wynn Interactive Holdings had held in New York.

ESPN BET, in turn, is poised to become the next New York sports betting app later this year.

“This is an important development that will bring ESPN Bet to the largest regulated online sports wagering market in North America,” said PENN CEO and president Jay Snowden in a statement. “Together with ESPN, we’re building a brand that is synonymous with sports betting, and operating in the New York market is key as we grow ESPN BET across the U.S.”

The deal

WynnBET has not been shy about its desire to depart the U.S. legal sports betting industry and looks to have made out well with the sale of its sports wagering provider license in New York, a market in which it had a tough time gaining any traction.

New York's market departure follows the company's announcement of its shuttering in the Massachusetts market just last week.

WynnBET was part of the incredibly successful New York scene featuring the best sports betting sites since February 2022 but will cease operations in the Empire State.

Wynn Interactive Holdings and PENN agreed to a $25-million transfer fee for the coveted position of offering the best New York sportsbook promos.

It appears on its face as a steep price to pay to allow for ESPN BET to operate in New York, but the cost pales in comparison to the already estimated $2 billion spent bringing the product and its ESPN BET promo codes to market.

New York was always a targeted destination for the ESPN BET brand. The purchase of WynnBET creates a clean and easy way for PENN Entertainment to introduce the ESPN BET brand in the biggest sports betting market on American soil.

ESPN BET growth

ESPN BET, from the time it was rumored to become one of the best sports betting apps. The sports betting product initially launched in 17 states in November 2023. ESPN BET was able to take over PENN's previous market partner, Barstool's, market presence in those states.

Around 1.2 million downloads of ESPN BET were reported in its first two weeks of operation in November, with 235,000 downloads reported on its first day.

ESPN BET has identified a 7% market share target for its U.S. licenses by the end of this year. In the Indiana sports betting scene in January, it held a 6.6% market share, and in the Maryland sports betting scene last month, ESPN BET reported a 6.8% market share.

ESPN BET will go live in the highly anticipated North Carolina sports betting scene in March, thanks to a partnership with Quail Hollow Club. PENN will also ensure that ESPN BET will be in the conversation to launch in other jurisdictions in the future.

New York's sports betting market access is the biggest fish that PENN Entertainment and ESPN BET had to land. Now that the partners have gained that valuable access, ESPN BET brass can concentrate on its goal of closing the gap between itself, DraftKings, and FanDuel.