ESPN Bet Signs Major PGA Tour Deal as Official Betting Operator of the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina.

ESPN Bet is expected to launch in North Carolina after agreeing a deal to become the official betting operator of Quail Hollow Golf Club.

After launching in 17 states on November 14th, coinciding with Thanksgiving week, ESPN Bet becomes one of the 12 operators licensed in North Carolina with Tuesday’s (December 5th) announcement.

This follows the North Carolina State Lottery Commission’s announcement that it will now begin the sports betting license application process beginning December 1st. The state is expected to open in the first half of 2024.

ESPN Bet’s agreement with Quail Hollow Club, a golf course in North Carolina, makes the company the official betting operator of the Wells Fargo Championship.

The PGA Tour event was previously won by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy and takes place at Quail Hollow Club.

In a press release Tuesday, Penn Interactive boss Benjie Levy noted that increased fan engagement and player acquisition were two of the deal’s key benefits.

“We are excited to partner with Quail Hollow Club and Wells Fargo Championship as we prepare to bring our new online sports betting brand, ESPN BET, to North Carolina,” Levy said.

“In addition to market access, we are also excited to sponsor the popular Wells Fargo Championship and work with our new partners to create unique fan activations.”

Johnny Harris, President of Quail Hollow Club, stated, “We welcome the upcoming introduction of regulated online sports betting in North Carolina and are extremely pleased to partner with PENN Entertainment, a leading gaming and entertainment provider.

“PENN’s compelling online sports betting brand, ESPN BET, state-of-the-art technology and extensive operational expertise make them an ideal long-term partner for this industry.”

ESPN Bet: The start so far

ESPN Bet is the result of a $1.5 billion (£1.2 billion/€1.4 billion) deal earlier this year between Penn Entertainment and Disney-owned ESPN.

Penn’s rights to the ESPN Bet brand will initially run for ten years, with the option of a ten-year extension.

With the launch, Penn is moving away from Barstool Sportsbook, which was sold back to Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy in August.

In a recent interview with iGB, Mike Morrison, ESPN’s vice president of sports betting, said he was pleased with the “really smooth” launch in November.

“We are excited. “Everything is working very well,” Morrison explained. “Some of the early reviews we’ve seen are really good. The teams on both sides are full of energy and anticipation.”

Despite high expectations, Morrison believes ESPN Bet will thrive under the pressure: “We’re certainly in a position where we want to be very successful here.” We’re competitive by nature and strive for excellence.

“There are a lot of what we would call Type A personalities on both sides, and we want to be successful here.”

North Carolina is expected to be a competitive market

As the opening of online betting in North Carolina approaches in 2024, ESPN Bet is the latest operator to make the move.

In November, bet365 announced a deal to become the official betting partner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. BetMGM and Fanatics are also rumored to be among the competitors for the 12 licenses available in the state, as are US giants DraftKings and FanDuel.

Operators have until December 27th to submit their applications. The licensing and verification process is not expected to be completed until after the Super Bowl in February.