ESPN Bet and theScore have joined the ranks of the “Official Sports Betting Partners” for the National Hockey League (NHL), marking the latest move in the expanding landscape of sports betting collaborations. This partnership, announced by the NHL, means that ESPN Bet, owned by Penn Entertainment, and theScore, will now enjoy intellectual property rights along with media and marketing integrations across NHL programming.
ESPN Bet, Penn Entertainment’s rebranded Barstool Sportsbook product, went live on November 14 in 17 states. This move came after Penn Entertainment agreed to a $1.5 billion, 10-year deal with ESPN, allowing the media brand’s use in its sports betting business.
In a statement provided to Casino.org, Jason Jazayeri, the NHL’s Vice President of Business Development, expressed excitement about the collaboration with ESPN Bet, stating, “The NHL is younger, faster, and more exciting than ever, and delivers a tremendous opportunity for fan engagement and responsible gaming experiences.”
This partnership is specific to ESPN Bet’s operations in the United States, while theScore’s deal is intended for use in Ontario, Canada.
A Growing Roster of Sports Betting Partners
With ESPN Bet and theScore coming on board, they join other industry heavyweights like DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM as Official Sports Betting Partners of the NHL. This strategic move reflects the NHL’s intent to diversify its partnerships and broaden its reach within the sports betting ecosystem.
Penn Entertainment is currently in the midst of an extensive marketing campaign for ESPN Bet, aiming to carve out market share in a field dominated by DraftKings and FanDuel, which together hold about 75% of the US sports betting market.
While hockey might not draw as much betting attention as football, basketball, or baseball, this partnership offers ESPN Bet and theScore a unique opportunity to reach a wider audience of sports bettors.
ESPN Bet Receives Criticism
Despite its early success in app downloads, ESPN Bet has faced criticism. Bettors have voiced concerns about the sportsbook’s handling of pushes in parlays. There have been instances where ESPN Bet has voided entire bets if one leg of the parlay pushed, a practice that has sparked criticism within the betting community.
For example, a bettor recently shared their experience on social media, demonstrating how ESPN Bet voided a five-leg parlay after one of the bets pushed. This drew attention to the fact that ESPN Bet’s approach differs from other sportsbooks, as many others recalculate odds in case of a push and proceed to pay out accordingly. This criticism is an aspect that ESPN Bet may need to address as it continues to compete in the fiercely competitive sports betting market.
ESPN Bet and theScore’s partnerships with the NHL signify a strategic move by both companies to strengthen their positions in the sports betting industry. With sports leagues increasingly embracing partnerships with sportsbooks, these collaborations are expected to evolve, presenting new opportunities and challenges for both the betting operators and the leagues themselves.