Disney And The ESPN Sports Betting Conundrum

Jake Cooper | 13 Feb 2019

Disney ESPNIt’s quite understandable that a family-focused multimedia giant corporation the likes of Disney would not experience a pressing need to become involved in the sports betting industry. In fact, Disney has always been quite vocal about the fact that whilst gambling and betting are legitimate entertainment industries, they are also adult-exclusive industries. And, being in the business of keeping children entertained, the brand does not really fit that particular bill.

But what very few people realise is that Disney owns ESPN, a company that could easily explode into becoming one of the biggest sports betting thrusts out there, but for the slightest prod in that direction. And yet, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger, despite the fact that ESPN recognises the prominence of the industry, Disney as an entity has no desire to be associated with any form of betting – not now, or any time in the foreseeable future.

A Resource for Everyone

Iger pointed out that whilst ESPN, a major broadcaster of global sporting events, may provide information that could be classified as being useful to sports bettors, this certainly did not mean that the broadcaster had any interest in becoming actively involved in the promotion of sports betting.

That having been said, any regular follower of sports events on ESPN will most likely be familiar with “Chalk”, a section that is devoted to the sports betting industry. And even though no direct bets are accepted, specialist shows such as “Bad Beats” on SportsCentre, are exclusively about gambling.

It would appear that Disney might indeed be playing the role of devil’s advocate.

Disney Guards Its Reputation

Disney has long been notoriously against all forms of gambling, and this would obviously include putting money on sports. The corporation is very much focused on keeping it all family-friendly, and even went as far as lobbying for a law that would require voter approval for the expansion of any gambling company in the Sunshine State (Florida).

The goal at the time was to protect the family friendly reputation of its Florida resort. Respectable as this may be in its own right, it would serve Disney well to re-convene and reassess its willingness to associate with the gambling industry, to whatever extent that may entail.

Especially since ESPN’s main competitors aren’t shying away from a fully-fledged sports betting service at all. Money will be made; the only remaining question is by whom?