Disney Looking For Online Sports Betting Partnership

Disney Looking For Online Sports Betting Partnership

Since the company’s inception, the Walt Disney Co. was vehemently anti-gambling. But according to a report from the Hollywood Reporter, the traditionally conservative company is looking to throw its hat into the sports betting ring.

During a Nov. 10 earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek told analysts that the company was starting to look at potential partnerships in the space.

“Given our reach and scale, we have the potential to partner with third parties in this space in a very meaningful way,” said Chapek.

As sports betting becomes more widely accepted by the public, the family-friendly brand that Disney owns is less in jeopardy by making the move into the gambling space. It recently allowed ESPN, a subsidiary company of Disney, to start creating content centered around the sports betting industry a few years ago.

The sports media giant partnered with Caesars Entertainment in May 2019 to create a studio above The LINQ on the Las Vegas Strip for its gambling-related television shows. Last June, ESPN announced that it was looking into branding its own sportsbook.

During Bob Iger’s time as CEO of Disney, the company kept its distance from actually participating in the gambling industry. Chapek took over in February 2020 and began changing the company’s course.

Anonymous sources told the Hollywood Reporter that Disney was in talks with several sports betting operators to partner with on the sports betting front. BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and DraftKings are the reported frontrunners for the deal according to the report.

The partnership would likely manifest itself in the launch of ESPN’s sportsbook, but that could happen in a number of different ways. The operators could pay Disney to use the ESPN brand and operate it independently of Disney or the agreement could come with split ownership of the sportsbook that would allow for exclusive advertising on Disney programs.

A partnership with one of the larger operators could also offer Disney an opportunity to enter markets where those operators already received licenses.

Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont all offer online sports betting. New York’s online market is expected to launch in the coming months. Florida launched its market at the start of the month but was put on hold when a federal judge ruled that the current compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe that allowed for it, violated federal laws.