Strategy

Disney CEO: ESPN won’t enter the sports betting arena

Bob Iger dismisses suggestions that ESPN could follow the Sky Bet route and launch a B2C betting product

Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger has dismissed suggestions that ESPN will enter the sports betting fray as an operator.

During the company’s quarterly earnings call Iger told analysts: “I don’t see The Walt Disney Company, certainly in the near term, getting involved in the business of gambling, in effect, by facilitating gambling in any way.”

“I do think that there’s plenty of room, and ESPN has done some of this already and they may do more, to provide information in coverage of sports, as a for instance, that would be relevant to and of particular interest to gambling and not be shy about it, basically being fairly overt about it,” Iger added.

He said the sports media provider would likely continue to provide game statistics relevant to bettors, but doubted it would “get into the business of gambling”.

Competing channel NBC Sports last month showed a Wizards-Milwaukee Bucks game, with  real-time odds and point spreads on screen.

NBC has also registered several domains including NBCSportbook.com and NBCSportsSportsbook.com, as well as non-.com versions of NBCSportsBet, NBCSportsBets, NBCSportsbook and NBCSportsBetting.

Since the repeal of PASPA the industry has been speculating over whether major media firms in the US would move into betting.

Speaking to EGR NA recently, sports law professor John Holden said: “If ESPN wants to turn their fantasy product into a sports gambling product, that’s the greatest opportunity for profit that exists.”

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