On Tuesday, the new “ESPN Bet” branding of Penn Entertainment’s online sportsbook (formerly Barstool Sportsbook) will launch, and there are interesting questions about how ESPN will operate in an era where their name is specifically on a gambling app. One of the key issues is whether and how ESPN employees, who may have access to inside information, will be allowed to bet on sports. An internal memo sent to ESPN employees on Friday sheds light on this issue.
The memo indicates that reporters and insiders covering a specific sport cannot bet on it, and employees in charge of managing relationships with sports leagues are also prohibited from betting on those leagues. Additionally, employees are banned from using “non-public information” for betting purposes or providing inside information to others for betting purposes. The memo emphasizes the importance of upholding journalistic integrity and avoiding any implication of control or influence over the operations of a sportsbook.
This policy seems to be a step in the right direction in terms of ensuring ethical conduct, especially considering the potential for sports gambling scandals involving insider information. While it is possible that there were no issues before the implementation of this policy, it is important for ESPN to establish strict guidelines to prevent any appearance of impropriety.
One potential challenge lies in the involvement of ESPN personalities in the ESPN Bet app. These personalities, such as Scott Van Pelt, may have access to more information on a game than the average viewer. However, if they make their picks public and refrain from betting until after any line shift resulting from that publicity, it could help alleviate some concerns.
Overall, the memo outlines clear boundaries for ESPN employees when it comes to sports betting and ensures that integrity and ethical conduct are maintained. It will be interesting to see how the launch of ESPN Bet unfolds and how the network navigates the intersection of sports journalism and sports gambling.