ESPN Bet Flourishes in Massachusetts During Record-Setting Month

Grant Mitchell
By:
Grant Mitchell
01/19/2024
Industry
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Highlights

  • ESPN Bet reported a $50 million handle in Massachusetts in December
  • Massachusetts finished 2023 with the highest monthly betting handle of its market’s existence
  • Legal sportsbooks are about to enter their busiest time of the year thanks to the NFL playoffs

ESPN Bet launched in late 2023 with the goal of acquiring a 10% market share and challenging the “Big Four” operators within the first three years of operation. After one full month in Massachusetts, the new legal sports betting platform is already one of the top three operators.

Per the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s monthly record, ESPN Bet claimed a $50 million handle in December, generating roughly $816,000 in tax revenue. 

While FanDuel and Boston-headquartered DraftKings dominated the Massachusetts market, as they do in most states, the first-month return was highly promising for a company still in its infancy.

First impressions are everything 

Massachusetts sportsbooks as a collective produced a handle of $658.7 million in December, creating more than $12 million in tax funding. 

ESPN Bet’s $50 million handle was 7.6% of the state’s total and 15.8% of the total reached by DraftKings, the state leader in online sports betting.

The $50 million was also 26.7% of the handle reported by FanDuel, the American leader in sports betting.

The $816,000 in sports betting tax revenue ESPN Bet helped produce was also 13.6% of DraftKings’ $6 million and 21.5% of FanDuel’s $3.8 million.

The two other members of the Big Four operators, BetMGM and Caesars, paled in comparison to the Penn Entertainment and Disney-backed project. Both platforms have been in operation for years nationwide and were present in Massachusetts when the state launched its market in March 2023. 

BetMGM finished only $150,000 behind ESPN Bet in November but was a whopping $10.8 million off pace in December betting handle (which it finished with $39.2 million).

Caesars was even further off the mark. The worldwide gaming entity finished December with a betting handle of $24.2 million, less than 50% of ESPN Bet’s total.

Caesars and BetMGM combined won a little over $4.2 million, which is exactly what ESPN Bet claimed on its own.

Fanatics and WynnBet rounded out the list of operators with a combined $26.1 million in revenue. Micro-betting-focused platform Betr struggled, reporting less than $500,000 in total handle.

Massachusetts’ massive first year 

Partly thanks to ESPN Bet’s success, along with factors such as building momentum, marquee sports events, and more, Massachusetts also set a monthly record for total sports betting handle. The final count of $658.7 million beat out November’s $654.4 million total, an increase of $4.3 million.

The state finished the year with a betting handle of $4.97 billion and likely would have blown past the $5 billion threshold had online sportsbooks launched when retail sportsbooks back in January. 

Operators also ended December with a combined $62.2 million in gross gaming revenue, narrowly beating out the previous record of $61.3 million in May. The year-end revenue total hit $483.7 million.

The Massachusetts market is also in a position to continue building on its strong 2023. DraftKings, the clear-cut leader for local betting, recently launched progressive parlays to give users a chance to partake in the style of betting found more commonly on PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy.

Sportsbooks are usually busiest during the NFL season and the NFL playoffs, the latter of which got underway earlier this month. Although the nearby Philadelphia Eagles were eliminated in the Wild Card, the remainder of the bracket, concluding in the Super Bowl, is expected to attract a ton of interest.

The Boston Celtics also have a chance to give the local market a shot in the arm later in the year when the NBA playoffs arrive. Boston is the odds-on favorite in NBA Finals betting at major sportsbooks and has the best record in the league at the time of writing.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.