In most years, the introduction of a lone mainstream sports brand to the gambling market would create major ripples throughout the nation’s sports betting ecosystem.

But what about two?

Last month, ESPN made a splashy debut in the U.S. sports betting market with the launch of the PENN Entertainment-operated ESPN BET. The rollout served as the most anticipated debut of a new sportsbook since the inaugural wave five years ago. But as year-end reviews trickle in during the holiday season, ESPN will have to share the headlines with another prominent mainstream brand.

In January, e-commerce giant Fanatics made its retail sports betting debut when the company opened a brick-and-mortar sportsbook inside FedEx Field, home of the NFL’s Washington Commanders. Fanatics followed with soft launches of its online sportsbook in several states before announcing the acquisition of PointsBet’s U.S. assets in May. To date, Fanatics Sportsbook is live in nine states, with more to come upon completion of the PointsBet deal.

An October survey of journalists by Hot Paper Lantern predicted that Fanatics, not ESPN BET, will be the brand that will wrest more market share from the Big Four when all is said and done. More precisely, approximately 65% of respondents chose Fanatics as the operator that will steal the most handle from DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars. In offering additional color on the results, HPL CEO Ed Moed told Sports Handle, “It all comes back to how good the product is, how relevant, and how easy the product is. Fanatics clearly has the upper hand from the survey with how they’re viewed.”

Nevertheless, ESPN BET bolted out of the gates with a strong debut. In November, bolstered by the launch’s tailwinds, a host of top gaming states reported record monthly sports betting handle. From early indications, there are signs that ESPN is bringing new female and recreational bettors into the market .

Last month, ESPN BET maintained a handle market share in the high single digits in several key states, most notably Massachusetts, where it outperformed BetMGM and Caesars. The robust figures prompted analysts from BofA Global Research to upwardly revise its long-term projections for the venture. BofA now predicts a run-rate market share of 10% for ESPN BET, up from previous expectations of 6-7%. (In financial parlance, a company’s run rate is a predictor of future performance under the assumption that current financial conditions will persist.)

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By the end of 2027, PENN Entertainment CEO Jay Snowden is optimistic that ESPN BET will command a market share of 20% or more nationwide. An influential venture capitalist, Seventy Six Capital Managing Director Wayne Kimmel, predicts that the operator will eventually become the country’s top sportsbook. Neither Snowden nor Kimmel have a crystal ball, however. Only time will tell.

As we close the door on 2023, the widespread changes to the U.S. sports betting market should have lasting effects. This year, brands such as FOX BET, WynnBET, PointsBet, and Unibet either downsized operations or announced plans to leave the U.S. market altogether. In their place, the emergence of ESPN BET and Fanatics heads our list as the top business story of 2023.

Here’s a month-by-month look at the other top business stories of the year.

December

Market Research Shows Wagering Little Affected Despite Inflation

Ex-Jags Employee Facing Up To 30 Years In Prison For Stealing $22M To Fund Gambling

Massachusetts: DraftKings Broke State Law In Accepting Out-Of-State Credit Card Funds

Cuban-Adelson Transaction Could Hold Implications Far Beyond NBA

Ex-Jags Employee Facing Up To 30 Years In Prison For Stealing $22M To Fund Gambling

Massachusetts: DraftKings Broke State Law In Accepting Out-Of-State Credit Card Funds

ESPN BET’s First Month In Line With Analysts’ Estimates, Preliminary Data Shows

Resignation Of Entain CEO May Reignite Calls For BetMGM Divorce

MGM Resorts Unveils Plans For Would-Be New York Casino

November

Unibet To Exit North American Sports Wagering Marketplace

F1 Crisis In Vegas Averted As MGM Reaches Agreement With Employee Union 

ESPN BET’s Highly Anticipated Launch Arrives, New Sportsbook Officially Live

The Billion Dollar Question: How Will ESPN BET Differentiate Itself From Main Rivals? 

Hard Rock Bet Surprises By Restarting On Limited Basis In Florida

Ed Miller: ‘Gambling Is About Finding People Who Are Willing To Lose To You’

Wisconsin Teen Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy In Sports Betting Hacking Case

DraftKings Announces ‘Progressive Parlay’ Feature Coming Soon To Online Sportsbook

PPA Tour Looks To Ride Momentum Of Pickleball Betting Launch Into 2024

DraftKings Takes Victory Lap, Vows To Remain ‘Disciplined’ Amid ESPN BET Launch 

Despite Robust Growth, Sportradar Unveils Plans To Reduce Workforce By 10%

October

Bally’s Gets 1-Year Extension To Operate Temporary Casino In Chicago

Football And Finances: Some Would Go Into Debt For A Home Team Super Bowl Win

Does House Money Or Skill Keep Sports Bettors Coming Back For More?

Travis Kelce Prop Betting Explodes As Taylor Swift Cheers Him On Again

Sportsbooks Are Beginning To Get The Hang Of Microbetting 

Radar Offers Wagering Operators A Geofencing Alternative

U.S. Gambling Is A $328 Billion Business, According To The American Gaming Association

Media Notebook: The Rise Of The Gambling Industry Newsletter

Sportradar, Genius Sports Hit With Patent Infringement Suits Over Streaming Products 

Younger Bettors Have More Diverse Wagering Habits Than Older Counterparts 

Nevada Rep Lauds NFL For Revamped Sports Betting Policy, But Questions Remain

September

Hard Rock Bet May Be The Quickest And Cleanest Sportsbook App Out There

Caesars Nears Launch Of FireBets Product To Capture Momentum Shifts In Sports Betting

NFL, Genius Sports Unveil Stream & Bet Platform Through BetVision

Will Prohibet Provide One-Stop Shopping For Detection Of Sports Betting Infractions?

College Fraternity Partners With Mental Health Provider To Curb Problem Gambling

Sportsbooks Ratchet Up Targeted Advertising At Start Of NFL Season 

Sportsbook Operators To Massachusetts: Data Privacy Regs Must Be Modified 

I Want You To Quant Me: High-Tech Startups Aspire To Help Bettors Beat The Books

Report: D.C. Lottery Limits Retail Wagers After Restaurant Bettor Wins Big 

DraftKings Posts, Then Removes, Parlay Tied To 9/11 Terrorist Attacks 

Roundhill To Modify Underlying Index For Sports Betting And iGaming Fund 

BetMGM’s Enhanced App Delivers Several Notable Product Improvements 

What Do Stuffy Noses Have To Do With Responsible Gambling? 

Prime Sportsbook Set To Kick Off In Ohio, Welcomes All Comers 

GeoComply Reports 242 Million NFL Week 1 Betting Transactions, Up 56% Over Last Year 

More Than 60% In Survey Say They Place Live Wagers On NFL Games 

August

Ontario Rolls Out More Stringent Wagering Advertising Rules 

NASCAR Re-ups With Sportradar, Signs Deal With Microbetting Platform nVenue 

Sporttrade Launches In Colorado As Upstart Novig Pursues License 

U.S. Rep. Tonko: Speedy Passage Of Sports Betting Ad Ban Bill Unlikely

Yahoo Sportsbook Opens Up At The Venetian Resort Las Vegas 

U.S. Commercial Sports Wagering Handle Surpasses $250 Billion Post-PASPA

Rivalry Brings Same-Game Parlays To Esports Betting 

Industry Insiders: Dave Portnoy One Of The Biggest Winners In Post-PASPA Era 

Wynn Resorts Plans To Close WynnBET In Eight States 

Flutter Anticipates Stiff Competition From ESPN BET, Is On Track For U.S. Listing 

MGM Resorts Pleased With BetMGM’s Path To Profitability 

July

Flutter, Fox Corp. Winding Down FOX Bet Amid Low Market Share 

NFL, Genius Sports Extend Sports Betting Data Partnership Through 2027-28 Season

Aristocrat Unveils First NFL-Themed And Branded Slot Machine 

NJ DGE Shuts Down PlayUp As Aussie Book Struggles To Remain Afloat In U.S.

Betr Launches Pick-‘Em-Style Fantasy Vertical  

TransUnion Report: College Loan Repayments May Impact Sportsbook Industry

June

Deloitte Study On Sports Fandom A Mixed Bag For Betting Interests 

Report Shares Details Of Brad Bohannon Firing Amid Betting Scandal 

Source: ‘Pervasive’ Wagering From Colts Player Includes Bets On His Own Team 

Sportsbooks, Industry Insiders Wary Of Bet-Boosting, Money-Lending Product 

DraftKings Plans To Explore Shared Wallet For Sports And Horse Betting 

Jeremy Levine: From His Parents’ Attic To Zeroing In On The Sports Betting Industry 

May

Fanatics Ceases Merchandise/Bonus Bet Offer After Ohio Objection

From PASPA To Present: An Oral History Of The U.S. Sports Betting Gold Rush

‘You Can’t Just Give Out Tom Brady’s Personal Information’ 

April

Teddy Talks: How Sports Betting Companies Are Navigating Early Adulthood

A Year After Charlie Blackmon’s Deal, MLB Betting Endorsements Have Vanished

Yahoo Enters Social Sports Betting Biz With Acquisition Of Wagr 

Celebrities Pitching Sportsbooks Could Get The Axe In Maine And Canada 

March

Major League Baseball Taps FanDuel As ‘Co-Exclusive’ Sports Betting Partner  

In It For The Long Haul: AGA Exercises Patience In Fight Vs. Offshore Books

Taylor Mathis Got Sacrificed At The Altar Of Responsible Gambling 

Rule Change: NFL Teams Can Open In-Stadium Sportsbooks On Game Days  

Are BetBots About To Disrupt The Sports Wagering Ecosystem? 

Tennessee’s Official League Data Up For Debate And Could Have National Implications

February

Monkey Knife Fight Is No More, As Bally’s Pulls The Plug 

The Future Of Super Bowl Betting Could Depend On Faster Streams 

GeoComply Logs Over 100 Million Super Bowl Geolocation Checks 

January

Arizona Regulators Approve, Then Remove, Betting On 2024 Presidential Election

Prophet Becomes First U.S. Betting Exchange To Appoint External Auditor 

NY Bill Proposes To Require Warnings On Gambling Advertising

Ohio Launch Sparks Nationwide Surge In Sportsbook App Downloads 

As we look ahead to 2024, innovation will likely play a large role in market changes over the next 12 months. In many respects, sports betting has become too conservative in its approach to adopting cutting edge technology, BetDEX CEO Varun Sudhakar told Sports Handle. As a result, keep an eye on the role of artificial intelligence and Web3 innovation in the new year. 





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