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Penn Entertainment-operated ESPN Bet has a long way to go if it is to catch up to its US market rivals.

That’s according to the latest Sports Betting Market Monitor report from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG).

The report includes several key data points and analysis from the US sports betting market, including market share statistics as well as predictions for the future of the sector.

Below, NEXT.io sets out some of the key talking points from the May edition of the report, using data up to April 2024.

Long way to go for ESPN Bet

In May’s report, EKG turned its attention to the traction of ESPN Bet, the Penn Entertainment-operated brand which took over from Barstool Sportsbook.

According to EKG’s analysis, ESPN Bet has performed well according to some metrics, but continues to face significant challenges according to others.

For example, the number of monthly unique players (MUPs) using Penn’s sportsbook grew by 153% year-on-year in Q1 2024, when comparing the performance of ESPN Bet to the former Barstool Sportsbook.

However, on a quarter-over-quarter basis, the brand did see a drop-off in MUPs between Q4 2023 and Q1 2024, at a more pronounced rate than other operators.

ESPN Bet MUPs fell by 11% over that period, compared to a 3% reduction among the brand’s rivals FanDuel, DraftKings and Rush Street Interactive.

Elsewhere, ESPN Bet has also consistently posted significantly lower average revenue per monthly unique player (ARPMUP).

Compared to Q3 2023, when Penn still operated under the Barstool brand, the average revenue per user following the transition to ESPN Bet dropped significantly in Q4, before recovering slightly in Q1 2024.

The figures left the brand a long way behind market leaders DraftKings and FanDuel, and even further behind RSI, which posted the highest ARPMUP among the four listed operators.

“RSI’s best-in-group ARPMUP reflects its casino-first focus and customer base,” EKG pointed out.

For ESPN Bet, the gap between the brand and its competitors is driven primarily by product, EKG added, as the operator continues to suffer from a “not yet competitive” same-game parlay (SGP) product.

“Product improvements were a major focus of Penn’s 1Q24 investor presentation,” however.

US sports betting app download trends

ESPN Bet’s strong performance in its number of MUPs was reflected in this month’s online sports betting app download trends analysis.

The chart shows the impact of the launch of ESPN Bet’s app in November 2023, which led to the brand being by far the most downloaded sports betting app during that month and the following month of December.

The dominance on that front appeared short-lived, however, with the number of new downloads dropping rapidly in the following months, with both DraftKings and FanDuel continuing to boast more monthly downloads than ESPN Bet ever since.

The data, which stretches back to January 2022, reflects several key moments in US online sports betting.

For example, a spike in January and February 2022 reflected Caesars’ major user acquisition push which focused heavily on the newly launched New York market.

In September that year, a new spike followed the start of the NFL and NCAA football seasons, while downloads remained high in the following months following the opening of the Kansas and Maryland online betting markets.

In January 2023, “ultra aggressive user acquisition efforts in the newly opened Ohio market” drove one of the biggest spikes on the chart, while the number of new downloads began to cool rapidly in the following months.

Only ESPN Bet’s launch in November was able to beat the January spike associated with Ohio’s launch, suggesting the brand made a significant impact in terms of customer awareness.

State-by-state GGR growth tracker

This month’s state-by-state GGR tracker followed similar trends to previous editions, with a few notable exceptions.

The table compares GGR in each state from the trailing 12 months to the prior 12-month period, to show the long-term growth of betting revenue in each state.

Outliers this month included Arkansas and Louisiana, which recorded year-on-year GGR increases of 97.2% and 81.2%, respectively.

Other fast-growing states included Oregon, with 41.8% growth and New Jersey, whose revenue jumped by 37% year-on-year over the period.

At the other end of the spectrum, just three states recorded year-on-year declines in market-wide GGR.

Ohio saw the biggest decline as GGR fell by 37% year-on-year, after aggressive customer acquisition led to big spending in the market’s first year post-launch.

Washington DC revenue also dropped by 24.8%, as the beleaguered market continued to suffer from the impact of its limited sportsbook options.

Elsewhere, Rhode Island recorded a more modest GGR drop of just 2.6% year-on-year.

Meanwhile Kansas, New York and Connecticut all registered GGR growth of more than 20%.

The remaining states registered more modest growth, but demonstrated the market’s continued resilience as the vast majority saw sustained improvements year-on-year.


EKG’s monthly report provides a digest of news and data points, including forecasts, for the emerging market for regulated sports betting in the United States. Please contact managing director Chris Krafcik for more information.

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