ESPN BET Branded Retail Sportsbook ‘Successfully’ Opens At Hollywood Greektown

Written By Corey Sharp on May 3, 2024
ESPN BET retail sportsbook at the Hollywood Casino Greektown. PENN CEO Jay Snowden reported a successful opening of the first ESPN BET retail casino at Hollywood Casino Greektown during the NFL Draft.

As Detroit played host to the NFL Draft last week, Hollywood Casino at Greektown opened the first ever ESPN BET retail sportsbook. PENN Entertainment CEO, Jay Snowden, called the opening a success during a Q1 2024 earnings call.

Hollywood Casino at Greektown, along with the entire city of Detroit, had been preparing for the NFL Draft for years. The city set an attendance record over the three-day event.

With the number of fans that showed up and the amount of events the Detroit casino hosted, it’s easy to see why it turned out to be a success.

Detroit breaks NFL Draft attendance record, benefitting casinos

PlayMichigan broke the news of the newly-branded retail sportsbook opening just in time for the NFL Draft. An ESPN BET spokesperson told us earlier in April that the rebrand would be completed on April 24, one day before the draft.

The city of Detroit played host to more than 775,000 fans that made their way downtown during the three days. It shattered the record Nashville set in 2019, when it played host to 600,000 fans.

Hollywood Casino at Greektown was right in the middle of all the action. It is located just five blocks from the main stage at Campus Maritus Park.

“We successfully opened our first ESPN BET retail sportsbook at Hollywood Detroit for a multi-day NFL draft activation, including live draft coverage by ESPN at our casino,” Snowden said during the call.

ESPN hosted a series of events all weekend with big-named talent, including:

  • First Draft podcast with Field Yates, Domonique Foxworth, Mina Kimes and Matt Miller
  • Unsportsmanlike with Evan Cohen, Chris Canty, and Michelle Smallmon
  • Greeny Show with Mike Greenberg
  • ESPN BET Live with various hosts

“The Sportsbook,” which was the previous name of the area after PENN’s split with Barstool, has much more meaning with ESPN branding throughout the facility.

In addition to the ESPN BET areas, the casino’s ‘Rock Bar’, located on the property’s first floor, has been completely transformed into an enhanced and expanded sports viewing and betting area.

Business was strong for MGM Grand Detroit, as well

The NFL Draft was also great for business for the nearby MGM Grand Detroit casino.

Matt Buckley, President and COO of MGM Resorts Midwest Group told PlayMichigan via an emailed statement:

“It was an incredible week and there was a ton of excitement. Thousands of football fans from across the country descended on Detroit and the energy was palpable everywhere you went. Hotels and restaurants were packed and while it’s a little too early to tell, the economic impact is sure to be huge for the city and for us here at MGM Grand Detroit. We had a magnificent time as we welcomed everyone through our doors.”

Potential cross-sell opportunities for ESPN BET and Hollywood brands

Turning back to PENN Entertainment, Snowden also announced on the earnings call that more Hollywood properties across the country are going to rebrand their retail sportsbooks to ESPN BET.

Revamping the retail sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Greektown came at the perfect time. PENN likely got the results it wanted from the weekend.

Now that ESPN BET’s online sportsbook has been launched more than five months in Michigan, cross-selling becomes the next area of focus for ESPN and PENN.

“Building a significant database of younger, highly engaged online sports bettors and fans, building long-term relationships via best-in-class product and experiences and eventually providing them with compelling cross-sell opportunities over time to other offerings throughout the PENN ecosystem, a truly unmatched omnichannel strategy, [is our goal],” Snowden said.

PENN undoubtedly has a large database with multiple properties throughout the US.

Todd George, PENN’s EVP of Operations, expressed his excitement over the cross-sell results from last weekend.

“We’ve been able to drive significant visitation from that ESPN online database into our properties,” George said on the call. “And I think the latest experience we had with the draft in Detroit, just saw a lot of excitement around the entire city of Detroit and a very well-executed event. But also showing excitement around the ESPN brand and being associated with our Greektown property there.”

PENN clearly chose Hollywood Casino at Greektown to open the first ESPN BET retail sportsbook for a reason. Other properties can now look to do the same, and start focusing on cross-selling to and from Hollywood locations and the ESPN BET app.

Photo by Courtesy PENN Entertainment
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp joined Catena Media in 2022 and is the go-to expert for Michigan gambling. Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, he previously worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia as a sports journalist and content producer. In Corey’s role as Lead Writer for PlayMichigan, he works alongside a talented team of expert journalists and analysts to bring you the most comprehensive and accurate coverage of gambling news in Michigan. Corey’s contacts around the industry makes him a trusted source. Corey produces daily stories and features about the gambling space. Corey graduated from Holy Family University in Philadelphia with a bachelor’s degree in sports management.

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