Massachusetts Gaming Commission Still Working Toward ESPN BET Launch

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Still Working Toward ESPN BET Launch
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

With a week left before the much-anticipated launch of PENN Entertainment’s ESPN BET-branded mobile sports betting app, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on Tuesday held public meeting No. 486 to review the imminent entry into the Bay State's marketplace. 

Having had issues in the past with PENN’s Barstool Sports relationship, state commissioners who govern legal Massachusetts sports betting sites and apps have wrestled with how to handle the pending brand switch.

They have cited little information and insight coming from PENN, issues surrounding how ESPN will handle both its College GameDay properties moving forward and the possibility of ESPN personalities suggesting/pushing specific wagers on games and events. The MGC decided to discuss the matter in a separate meeting Tuesday.

Less than a month ago, PENN had indicated to interim Investigation and Enforcement Bureau Chief Heather Hall it would submit answers to whatever questions the MGC had by the end of October.

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ESPN BET Scheduled to Launch Nov. 14

The MGC had planned to vote on PENN's 57-page document of house rules for ESPN BET Massachusetts during its Nov. 2 meeting, but that specific item and potential vote was removed from the agenda.

The launch of ESPN Bet will be Nov. 14, and Massachusetts is one of 17 states where the Barstool-to-ESPN BET rebrand will take place. The other states are Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. ESPN BET is a separate marketing deal for PENN Entertainment, while Barstool Sports and its Massachusetts mobile betting apps entry was a wholly-owned subsidiary of PENN.

PENN Entertainment is to pay ESPN $150 million a year for 10 years, with an out clause after three years and again after seven. Depending on performance, ESPN was also granted up to $500 million in warrants to buy shares of PENN stock. The MGC’s next public meeting will be Wednesday at 11:15 a.m., where an update to PENN’s house rules is listed on the agenda. As a side note, starting Friday, ESPN’s ‘Daily Wager’ show will become ‘ESPN BET Live.’

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Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media ( in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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