PENN, ESPN Bet Buy WynnBET’s New York License for $25 Million

Mobile Betting


  • WynnBET spent the past year closing down its operations nationwide
  • New York sportsbooks accepted more than $19 billion in wagers in 2023
  • ESPN Bet is now giving itself the best chance to increase its bottom line

When one door closes, another opens. That’s the same mantra for the New York sports betting market, which is replacing the outgoing WynnBET with the Disney and PENN Entertainment-backed platform ESPN Bet.

PENN announced Tuesday that it acquired the sports betting operator’s license awarded to WynnBET in 2021 for $25 million. The deal means that WynnBET can no longer offer betting odds and services in New York, while ESPN Bet now has access to its 18th state in its first six months of operation. 

The transfer continued a trend WynnBEt started in 2023 of leaving its jurisdictions. It also recently announced its intent to leave Massachusetts, the only other market it’s a part of aside from New York.

A new face joins the leading market  

New York is the largest contributor to the national gambling handle and revenue pool. The state’s Gaming Commission revealed that legal sportsbooks combined to accept just under $19.2 billion in wagers in 2023, the state’s second year of sports betting operations.

ESPN Bet has lofty ambitions fitting for the first part of its brand name. Despite giants such as FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars dominating the national sports betting conversation, the project launched with the goal of capturing a 10% market share within three years.

“This is an important development that will bring ESPN Bet to the largest regulated online sports wagering market in North America,” said Jay Snowden, CEO and president of PENN. “Together with ESPN, we’re building a brand that is synonymous with sports betting, and operating in the New York market is key as we grow ESPN Bet across the U.S.” 

Just because PENN and WynnBet agreed to a license sale does not mean that ESPN Bet can launch immediately. It must undergo a thorough vetting process by the New York State Gaming Commission and ultimately receive approval before its betting odds are published and users can frequent their online or mobile app. 

Licensed sportsbooks in New York include the aforementioned “Big Four,” along with Bally Bet, Fanatics, Resorts World, and WynnBET.

Despite having access to the mecca of American online sports betting, WynnBET struggled to find its footing. The company managed a $207.7 million handle in two years of operation (the third-lowest of all New York sportsbooks) and reported gross gaming revenue losses for three straight weeks to close 2022.

Continued struggles and future outlook 

With the news of a license sale, WynnBET is just one step away from joining the list of sportsbooks that were forced to close operations.

The company left Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, and was recently granted an exit day of Feb. 23 in Massachusetts despite also having a retail casino, Encore Boston Harbor, inside state lines. 

While WynnBET seems to be done with online sports betting, it is one of many interested parties competing for one of three casino licenses that will be offered by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. It partnered with billionaire Stephen Ross’ real estate group The Related Companies to pitch a $10 billion overhaul in Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side.

The company may reignite an interest in holding an online sports betting operator’s license if it is also selected for one of the casino licenses.

ESPN Bet may be less than a year into its lifespan, but early signs in a variety of states are promising. 

PENN agreed to pay Disney $1.5 billion and $500 million in concessions over 10 years for the right to leverage the ESPN name and branding. If the company is going to achieve the same success that its namesake already has, New York is the right place to do it.