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November 30, 2022 Sports Betting, Legal, Partnerships

ESPN sports betting deal has stalled, according to Chairman Pitaro

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The return of Bob Iger halted the search for a major sports betting partner.

During a conference hosted by Sports Business Journal, ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said he doesn't anticipate any sports betting deals to happen in the immediate future.

The reason for this is the return of Bob Iger to ESPN's parent company, Walt Disney Corporation. For quite some time, betting was considered off limits for any company under the Disney flag.

When Bob Chapek took over as CEO in 2020, the company began searching for a major sports betting partner for ESPN. However, his firing and the return of Iger have put a stop to the plans.

Pitaro said: "We’re not going to take people’s money; we’re not going to set lines and spreads and odds, but the idea of leaning in a bit more here and creating a more seamless experience is definitely on the table."

Back in 2019, when Iger was CEO, he told investors that he didn't see Disney getting into the business of gambling or even "facilitating gambling in any way." In his opinion, ESPN's role was to provide information. 

Pitaro continued: "Bob’s ultimately going to have to dig in with me. We’re going to have to sit down and I’m going to have to walk him through this. I do not anticipate any deals imminent."

With states quickly legalizing sports betting, several media companies have entered into agreements with sportsbooks. 

Pitaro added: "We believe there is upside for the ESPN business and we believe there is upside for the ESPN brand. At the same time, we have to consider things from a Disney perspective as well."

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