ESPN BET To Make History When PGA Championship Hits Valhalla This Week

ESPN BET To Make History When PGA Championship Hits Valhalla This Week
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

When the PGA Championship begins later this week at Louisville’s Valhalla Golf Club, it will become the first men’s major tournament to host a sports betting lounge.

Last week, the PGA of America announced it entered into a three-year agreement with PENN Entertainment to have its ESPN BET online app serve as the official sports betting sponsor of golf’s second major of the year. Starting with this year’s event, the PGA will be held not only in states that have legalized sports betting but also in states where ESPN BET operates. 

PENN rebranded its former Barstool Sportsbook app to ESPN BET last fall as part of a $1.5 billion branding deal with the sports network, which is also a broadcast partner for the PGA Championship.

PENN already had an agreement in place with Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., the site of next year’s PGA Championship. The sides’ partnership enabled ESPN BET to get a license in North Carolina earlier this year.

ESPN BET To Host On-Course Lounge

The partnership enables ESPN BET Kentucky to host a lounge on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course. That facility will be adjacent to the 13th green, which happens to be Valhalla’s signature hole. Open throughout each round, the lounge will be available only for ESPN BET account holders (the app is 21+ in Kentucky) and will feature covered seating, refreshments and a virtual reality simulator of the 13th hole.

The PGA Championship deal is not the first time a PENN online sportsbook has had a special tie-in with a golf tournament. PENN’s theScore Bet, the company’s Canadian sportsbook, is the official gaming partner of the Canadian Open. 

Two years ago, theScore Bet sponsored a lounge that rose 100 feet in the air, allowing fans to get an aerial view of the first and 18th holes at St. George’s Golf and Country Club. Last year, when Oakdale Golf and Country Club hosted the tournament, the sportsbook offered fans a chance to play “Hole Zero” at the course. Fans got a chance to play like the pros on a 150-yard par 3, with access to a clubhouse, caddy, swing coach and gear.

The partnership also allows ESPN BET to give bettors “specially curated” betting markets on its app before and during the tournament. Those markets could include themed wagers behind PGA storylines or picks from ESPN anchors and personalities, not unlike what ESPN BET offers during other big events shown on the network.

A day after the PGA of America-ESPN BET partnership became public, the American Gaming Association announced the golfing organization joined its “Have A Game Plan,” responsible betting campaign. The AGA and PGA will develop co-branded materials for the PGA of America’s digital and social media platform to educate fans and followers about how they should approach sports betting.

“It is core to our values to ensure golf fans have the right tools in their bag to bet responsibly,” said PGA of America Chief Commercial Officer Jeff Price. “Activating AGA’s Have A Game Plan campaign during this year’s PGA Championship and beyond will be an integral part of our strategy as interest in golf wagering grows.”

Special Broadcasts Added

Besides the on-course lounge and the curated betting markets, ESPN will run ESPN BET at the PGA Championship, a daily alternative broadcast for two hours that will provide both golf commentary and betting discussions on the tournament. The show will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day, with the Thursday and Friday episodes on ESPN2 and the weekend shows streaming on ESPN+.

“We are incredibly proud to partner with PENN Entertainment and immerse ESPN BET into the spectator experience throughout the PGA Championship,” Price said. “The added onsite presence of ESPN BET, as well as broadcast and content offerings, will provide spectators with exciting new ways to enjoy and engage with all of the action during the PGA Championship.”

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USA Today photo Aaron Doster.



Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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