Report: ESPN may ban employees from wagering on ESPN Bet
Earlier this week, it was announced that ESPN is partnering with Penn Entertainment to launch their own sportsbook called “ESPN Bet” this winter, allowing users everywhere to bet on NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and several other sports, both college and professional.
Though, the one section of people who may not be permitted to bet on the newest sportsbook is ESPN employees themselves, according to Front Office Sports.
“High-level ESPN executives will decide over the next several months whether employees can wager on games via the company’s branded betting app. Or possibly wager on games at all,” according to Michael McCarthy of FOS. “ESPN does not have an internal policy banning employees from betting on games, said sources. But the sports world discovered during the last two NBA Drafts that a well-timed tweet from insiders like Shams Charania of The Athletic/FanDuel/Stadium or ESPN’s own Adrian Wojnarowski can shift the betting odds.”
ESPN does have betting shows–like “Daily Wager,” which runs for 30 minutes every weekday–and acclaimed segments, such as Scott Van Pelt’s “Bad Beats,” across company networks. It also recently announced that Steve Coughlin, also known as “Stanford Steve,” who works closely with Van Pelt on-air, will be the new betting analyst on “College Gameday,” replacing Chris “The Bear” Fallica, who moved over to Fox Sports.
If these rules were to be imposed, they would not be the only media conglomerate to do so; as McCarthy mentioned, NFL Network and The Athletic employees are not allowed to wager on any sporting event. While Penn kept Barstool Sportsbook, that does not mean it will be the same will apply for the rebranded ESPN Bet since the company is owned by Disney.
On one hand, sports betting is growing in the media industry, for bettor (pun intended) or worse, but it could cause a conflict of interest. Theoretically, in the event of the NBA or NFL Draft, the sportsbook could choose to not list Draft pick odds their book if they’re weary of employees getting in on the action with early leaks. But in the world where money talks, that loses money, especially since rival competitors–DraftKings and FanDuel, which have aforementioned odds available–make up over 75 percent of the sports betting market share.
Side Note: I will be interested to see how ESPN Bet directly intersects with the discourse on the company’s most famed sports talk shows, such as “First Take” or “Get Up.” Unless you’re a very invested sports bettor, this almost certainly won’t drive the discourse in the more positive, healthy direction, will it? Time will tell.
It would also be curious if ESPN prohibited employees from wagering on a sportsbook from their own company. It’s one thing to limit them from betting on any sporting event at any ‘book, but your own? ESPN knew what it was getting itself into when it partnered with Penn, so it would seem unlikely that it would stray away from allowing its own employees from utilizing it, no matter how bad or unhealthy sports gambling is or is becoming.
What do you think will happen? Let us know in the comments section below!