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ESPN is jumping into sports gambling in a $2 billion deal

By Ramishah Maruf, CNN

New York (CNN) — Casino owner PENN Entertainment has dropped Barstool, the sports website, agreeing to a $2 billion dollar deal with ESPN to create ESPN Bet.

The online Barstool Sportsbook will be rebranded as ESPN Bet in the fall, PENN said in a statement Tuesday. It secured exclusive rights to the ESPN Bet trademark for 10 years, with an option to be extended for another 10. ESPN’s talent will promote the betting service.

“ESPN Bet will be deeply integrated with ESPN’s broad editorial, content, digital and linear product, and sports programming ecosystem,” Jay Snowden, CEO and president of PENN, said in a statement.

PENN will make $1.5 billion in cash payments to ESPN over the next decade and grant ESPN around $500 million worth of its shares. ESPN also gets to designate a Penn board member after three years.

To get out of some its “non-compete and other restrictive covenants” with Barstool, PENN sold all of its Barstool common stock to the sports site’s founder, David Portnoy.

In an “emergency press conference” posted on X, previously known as Twitter, Portnoy said it’s the first time he has owned “100%” of Barstool Sports in a decade and that it was difficult to operate with gambling regulators.

“The regulated industry is probably not the best place for Barstool Sports and the type of content we make,” Portnoy said. “Penn was able to broker an unbelievable deal with ESPN.”

PENN added that if Portnoy sells Barstool, it “has the right to receive 50% of the gross proceeds.”

“By the way, I am never going to sell Barstool Sports ever. I’ll hold it till I die,” Portnoy said.

PENN completed its acquisition of Barstool in February, after buying an initial 36% stake of Barstool Sports in 2020.

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