The Mouse Always Wins

For years, Disney CEO Bob Iger insisted that the notion of the wholesome-ish company getting into the gambling business wasn’t in the cards. Well, welcome to Tomorrowland where all bets are off. Disney-owned ESPN has officially announced its much-anticipated wager on sports betting. It’s a sign of how intertwined sports and betting have become and that placing bets has gone fully mainstream. Sports coverage went from barely addressing gambling to featuring odds in almost every part of their broadcasts. Pro leagues once avoided any connection to Vegas but now proximity to the sportsbook is considered a plus. In fact, Disney’s biggest challenge in the space is that they may be too late to the table. The genie is already out of the bottle, and it ain’t Aladdin. Peter Kafka in Vox: Disney used to hate gambling. Now it’s doing a $2 billion sports betting deal. “Here’s a story that would have been very, very hard to imagine a few years ago: ESPN, Disney’s sports behemoth, is doing a $2 billion deal with Penn Entertainment, a gambling company you’ve probably never heard of. It’s a striking about-face for Disney CEO Bob Iger, who spent years insisting that his company should avoid anything to do with gambling. And there’s an additional wrinkle for people who pay attention to changes in sports and pop culture: ESPN’s sports betting deal with Penn replaces one the company previously had with Barstool Sports, the raunchy and provocative publisher that used to thrive on portraying ESPN as lumbering and out of touch. The deal tells us a lot about the state of sports, media, and gambling.” When in comes to vice, always bet the over.

+ I’d also bet the over on the mainstreaming of betting have a negative impact on society. We already have some early evidence. I covered that in a recent post: You Bettor, You Bettor, You Bet.

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