US sports betting technology firm PENN Entertainment has acquired WynnBet's New York state mobile sports wagering license in a $25 million move.

The deal allows Penn’s ESPN Bet brand to operate in the state for the first time, while WynnBet will divest from New York.

Alongside US sports broadcaster ESPN, Penn is the joint-venture owner of ESPN Bet, which currently operates in 17 states including Illinois, New Jersey, and most recently North Carolina.

WynnBet is the sportsbook subsidiary of hotel and casino chain Wynn Resorts, which also previously operated the now-defunct bookmaker BetBull, which ceased operations in July 2022.

WynnBet first received a wagering license for New York in 2021, with sportsbooks only entering the state for the first time in 2019.  

ESPN Bet, which will launch in New York later in 2024 pending regulatory approval, will become one of nine online sportsbooks in the state, a number that is legally capped, and includes major players such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM.

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Penn chief executive and president Jay Snowden stated of the license acquisition: “This is an important development that will bring ESPN BET to the largest regulated online sports wagering market in North America.

“Together with ESPN, we’re building a brand that is synonymous with sports betting, and operating in the New York market is key as we grow ESPN BET across the US.”

While ESPN Bet has been rapidly expanding across the country since its launch in November 2023, WynnBet has been majorly contracting with New York becoming the 10th state it has divested from since the beginning of 2023.

WynnBet last year exited Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, owing to a failure to break out among the increasingly crowded pack of sportsbook offerings.

Julie Cameron-Doe, Wynn Resorts chief financial officer, stated at the time of the initial eight divestments in August 2023: “In light of the continued requirement for outsized marketing spend through user acquisition and promotions in online sports betting, we believe there are higher and better uses of capital deployment for Wynn Resorts shareholders.”

Earlier in February, WynnBet announced it was also leaving Massachusetts, and the sale of its New York license means soon it will only operate in Nevada and Michigan, although those businesses are also under review as the company pivots away from sports betting and toward iGaming, where it holds a more sustainable market share in some states where it also operates physical locations.

Cameron-Doe added: “While we believe in the long-term prospects of iGaming, the dearth of iGaming legislation and the presence of numerous other investment opportunities available to us around the globe have led us to the decision to curtail our capital investment in WynnBet to focus primarily on those states where we maintain a physical presence.”

At the time, WynnBet stated that its operation in Massachusetts would continue unabated, while New York and Michigan operations would be under review. Now though, the closing of its Massachusetts operations may also spell the end for its Michigan enterprise.