ESPN Bet Joins North Carolina Sports Betting with Quail Hollow Golf Club
Penn Entertainment’s newly launched ESPN Bet is now the second sportsbook to announce its intent to start North Carolina sports betting. It will be done via its partnership with golf course Quail Hollow Club (pictured) and its Wells Fargo Championship.
North Carolinians are set to see regulated sports wagering debut in early to mid-2024. Regulators recently confirmed it won’t be launching in time for football betting on February’s Super Bowl LVIII. But June is the ultimate legal deadline for its start.
Under the state’s sports betting framework, each operator has to partner with a local sports organization before applying for a license.
The collaboration between Quail Hollow and ESPN Bet is the first step in ESPN Bet’s license application. The first sportsbook to queue up for the market was British operator Bet365.
In November, it announced its partnership with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, who play at the very same Spectrum Center that saw Governor Roy Cooper sign the bill legalizing sports betting in the state.
Details of the Deal
This new deal for ESPN Bet will see it become the exclusive and official betting partner for the Wells Fargo Championship, a top-level PGA Tour Signature Event held at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This arrangement will offer ESPN BET various marketing integrations, including the opportunity to engage live golf betting fans at the course on tournament days.
North Carolina retail sportsbooks will be unique among U.S. markets in that all operators will have existing partnerships with sports teams. This will no doubt lead to some novel collaborations and sportsbook venues.
For example, a full ESPN Bet sportsbook at a prominent golf course like Quail Hollow Club could well outdo the temporary venues DraftKings and FanDuel have set up at PGA Tour events this year.
“We are thrilled to partner with Quail Hollow Club and the Wells Fargo Championship as we prepare to bring our new online sports betting brand, ESPN BET, to North Carolina,” said Benjie Levy, head of the Penn Interactive division which manages ESPN Bet.
“Along with market access, we’re excited to sponsor the popular Wells Fargo Championship and look forward to working together with our new partners to create unique fan activations.”
Penn Pushing ESPN Bet
ESPN BET cost Penn Entertainment $1.5 billion in licensing rights to the veteran sports broadcaster’s branding over the next 10 years. On November 14, it launched online in 17 states, taking over Penn’s previous Barstool Sportsbook brand.
ESPN Bet, which has proved hugely popular on app stores since its debut, is a big bet for Penn, but one that could pay off substantially.
That’s because Penn also had to take a huge loss of hundreds of millions on Barstool when it switched to ESPN, including selling the media portion of the brand back to its founder, Dave Portnoy, for a reported $1 fee.
However, ESPN has 105 million monthly viewers who will all now be regularly seeing the ESPN Bet brand.
It has also been pushing national sports sponsorships for the sportsbook, including a recent deal with the NHL.
North Carolina will also be ESPN’s first test launching alongside other established national leaders in a fresh, new market. As well as the confirmed Bet365, operators who are reportedly interested include DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Fanatics.
“We welcome the upcoming launch of regulated online sports wagering in North Carolina and are extremely pleased to partner with a leading gaming and entertainment operator in Penn Entertainment,” said Johnny Harris, president, Quail Hollow Club.
“PENN’s compelling online sports betting brand ESPN BET, cutting-edge technology and extensive operational expertise make them an ideal long-term partner for this industry.”