“UNLV Receives $200K Donation from ESPN for Research on Sports Betting Media Analysis”


Posted on: November 14, 2023, 10:14h. 

Last updated on: November 14, 2023, 10:14h.

ESPN officially entered the sports betting realm today when its ESPN Bet sportsbook app went live in numerous states.

ESPN Bet responsible sports betting UNLV
An episode of “Daily Wager” on ESPN with Doug Kezirian, Steve Coughlin (“Stanford Steve”), and Scott Van Pelt. ESPN has donated $200,000 to UNLV for responsible sports betting studies in conjunction with its ESPN Bet launch. (Image: ESPN)

In conjunction with ESPN Bet debuting in 17 states, the sports media giant announced a collaboration with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and the school’s International Gaming Institute (IGI). ESPN is donating $200,000 to the program to further advance responsible sports betting best practices and fund an analysis of the media’s impact on problem gambling.

We are thrilled to have ESPN’s support for research, education, and innovation in the responsible, sustainable representation of sports betting in the media,” said Brett Abarbanel, IGI executive director. “The growth of betting and gambling subjects in US media have exploded in the past five years. So, too, have calls for extended research and thought leadership alongside this proliferation of content.”

The grant will help the school develop a “pioneering” program dedicated to the study of the intersection of sports betting and the media.

Brand Identity

ESPN Bet is a partnership between Penn Entertainment and the sports media conglomerate. Penn is paying the sports network $1.5 billion over the next 10 years to utilize the globally known ESPN brand.

Some state regulators, however, have expressed worries about consumers not being able to identify where the line is drawn between ESPN the media company and ESPN Bet the sportsbook. Penn executives have said the ESPN Bet sportsbook will have no bearing on ESPN’s programming, and the cable networks’ on-air personalities will maintain their journalistic integrity and continue to promote responsible gaming.

“The key point is making sure insiders remain independent from ESPN Bet, so there will be no connection between the ESPN insiders, reports, or the news desk with anyone who handles risk and trading for Penn,” Chris Rogers, Penn Entertainment’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer, told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission last week.

UNLV researchers at IGI will seek to develop tutorials that can educate executive leadership in the media sector on best practices in sports betting, including responsible gaming and marketing, advertising policies, broadcast standards, and risk management.

Kevin Martinez, ESPN’s vice president of corporate citizenship, said the $200,000 contribution highlights the company’s “commitment to ensuring that the world of sports betting is not only entertaining but also responsible.”

ESPN Bet Launch

ESPN Bet is launching at various times today in the 17 states where Penn’s former online sportsbook, Barstool, was licensed. By tonight, the platform is expected to be operational in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Penn is utilizing theScore mobile sportsbook platform to power ESPN Bet. Penn acquired theScore in 2021 for $2 billion in cash and stock. theScore platform had also run the Barstool Sportsbook.

ESPN Bet arrives just in time for one of the biggest NFL games of the season so far when the Philadelphia Eagles play at the Kansas City Chief on Monday Night Football. The Chiefs are three-point favorites in the rematch of Super Bowl LVII.

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