ESPN Bet Set to Become Official Sports Betting Partner of the PGA Championship

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Michael Savio
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  • The PGA Championship will start May 16 and run thru May 19
  • ESPN Bet is available in 18 states
  • ESPN Bet’s numbers have disappointed early on

The PGA announced this week that they have signed a deal with PENN Entertainment to make ESPN Bet the official sports betting partner for the PGA Championship. The four-day tournament is one of the league’s four majors, making the partnership for ESPN Bet a major win.

“We’re pleased to be the PGA of America’s first-ever gaming partner and align ESPN BET with this prestigious men’s golf major. We look forward to accessing highly engaging touchpoints to bring ESPN BET onto the course and into the PGA Championship broadcast on ESPN,” says PENN VP Jason Birney. “With the PGA Championship set to take place in states where ESPN BET operates through 2026, this partnership provides us with a great opportunity to interact with and engage golf fans.”

As a new PGA betting partner, ESPN Bet is to be advertised both on TV and in person over the course of the next three years.

This year’s PGA Championship will be held at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, from May 16 through May 19. It will be the first major sports event since Kentucky sports betting launched in September 2023.

Partnership Comes During Trying Times for Sports Betting

While the partnership is being celebrated by the PGA and PENN, it comes at an awkward time for legal sports betting states.

Over the last year, more states have reported upticks in problem gambling, underage betting, and scandals involving pro and college athletes. These issues have spurred many states to begin adding more regulations to the industry and led US Congress to begin discussing changes on a federal level.

Among the changes being called for is sportsbook advertising. Many legislatures and watchdog groups are calling for a ban on sportsbooks branding during live events. While states and Congress has yet to officially address this issue, it is gaining momentum nationwide.

ESPN Bet Continue to Fight for Market Share

PENN’s new partnership with the PGA Championship gives ESPN Bet a boost they have badly needed. The new sportsbooks were able to launch in 18 states thanks to PENN’s previous partnership with Barstool. This allowed ESPN to make an aggressive push for new users, but the results have been mixed.

ESPN’s numbers have been lower than they had hoped, but it is too early to tell how they will stack up against the industry’s other top competitors. Their recent launch means that the platform is offering high-value bonuses to attract new users, which takes away revenue and boosts user counts. Those bonuses are beginning to expire, meaning their true numbers will soon become apparent.

While there was no expectation for ESPN Bet to take over market share from industry-leaders DraftKings and FanDuel, they hoped they could compete with the likes of Caesars, BetMGM, and the also newly launched Fanatics. Results have been mixed, which is a troubling sign for their ability to compete in the future.