Yes, ESPN Bet Is Expected To Launch In Kentucky, But Not On Sept. 28

Written By Dan Holmes on August 10, 2023
ESPN Bet coming to Kentucky not in September but November

When Kentucky launches online sports betting Sept. 28, the new ESPN Bet sportsbook will not be among the apps available. But it is expected to launch in Kentucky in November.

PENN Entertainment, which this week abandoned Barstool Sports to rebrand Barstool Sportsbook to ESPN Bet, has applied for an online Kentucky sports betting license, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday.

On Wednesday morning, during its second quarter earnings call, PENN explained that it will take its time rebranding its sports betting app and rolling it back out as ESPN Bet. The target date is prior to Thanksgiving, which would place its Kentucky sports betting debut later in the college football and NFL seasons.

PENN Entertainment CEO Jay Snowden said the aim was to launch the new sports betting app “certainly before Thanksgiving.”

PENN has applied for a Kentucky license

On Tuesday, the sports betting industry was jolted by the news that PENN and ESPN had entered into a 10-year partnership. The sports and entertainment network will lend its brand to the sportsbook app and sports betting website operated by PENN.

ESPN Bet will replace Barstool Sportsbook, which PENN previously owned and operated as its sports betting product.

The Barstool Sports brand has been sold back to founder Dave Portnoy, in a transaction that illustrates how much more value ESPN has as a dancing partner. PENN will pay $1.5 billion and also offer as much as $500 million in shares of PENN to ESPN in exchange for using its brand, and having access to that company’s content and talent.

So far, seven sportsbooks have applied for online licenses to launch in Kentucky:

  • Bet365
  • BetMGM
  • Caesars Sportsbook
  • Circa
  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • PENN Entertainment (ESPN Bet)


ESPN Bet may shake up Kentucky market

Kentucky sports fans are getting legalized sports betting in their state at an interesting time.

The ESPN/PENN partnership shakes up the landscape, creating a new option that may be able to challenge the near monopoly that FanDuel and DraftKings are forging in many states.

PENN has licenses in 16 states, all of them for its Barstool product. But those will be transitioned to ESPN Bet by the middle of November, according to Snowden, with a likely launch for wagers before Thanksgiving.

According to terms of the deal between PENN and ESPN revealed Tuesday in a press release, the entertainment network, which is largely owned by Disney, will provide on-air promotion and internet promotion of the ESPN Bet app, and also lend their popular broadcasters and podcasters for promotion.

Photo by AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a staff writer for PlayKentucky with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He also has extensive experience covering the launch of sports betting in other states, including Ohio, Massachusetts and Maryland. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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