ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell is planning to leave the cable giant to join the Action Network, a start-up media company focused on sports gambling, according to a source close to the negotiations. A deal could be finalized this week, and potentially as soon as Monday.
Rovell’s potential move was first reported by CNN.
Rovell is expected to cover all things sports betting for Action, as he has done at ESPN. News of his looming departure came on the same day that Rhode Island became the eighth state to accept sports wagers and on the heels of a report that nearly $600 million was wagered in New Jersey in four-plus months of legalized sports gambling.
More states are expected to legalize sports betting in the coming months and some experts believe New Jersey could soon eclipse Nevada in total money bet on sports, suggesting a still-unmet appetite for wagering across the country.
Last week, the one-on-one golf match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson was hosted by an MGM resort in Las Vegas and commentators discussed live betting trends during the telecast. The NBA has reached a sponsorship deal with MGM, as has the NHL.
Rovell has been at ESPN for the last six years, his second stint at the network. In between, he reported for CNBC from 2006-12; he also hosted the show, “NBC SportsBiz: Game On” on the NBC Sports Network. His more than 2 million Twitter followers would provide an immediate visibility boost for Action.
Action was created last year by the Chernin Group, a holding company that also has stakes in Barstool Sports and the Athletic. The site and its app cover sports gambling and produce a show that airs on ESPN’s platform, ESPN+, “I’ll Take That Bet.” Action hired Chad Millman, the former editor in chief of ESPN the Magazine, last year to lead its content team.
Action, ESPN and Rovell declined to comment.
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