Disney CEO Bob Chapek says ESPN will never accept bets

Disney CEO Bob Chapek said Thursday that ESPN’s sports network is looking for a partner to help it get into sports gambling.

“We at ESPN have the ability to do that. Now we’re going to need a partner to do that because we’re never going to be a book, that’s never in the Walt Disney Company’s plans,” Chapek told CNBC. David Faber said in an exclusive interview. “But at the same time, being able to partner with a respected third party can do that for us.”

The comments come after activist investor Daniel Loeb of Third Point recently acquired a new stake in Disney in the second quarter worth about $1 billion, or 0.4% of the company.

Loeb initially pushed for Disney to spin off sports property, stating that it would be easier for it to participate in certain initiatives such as sports gambling. But on Sunday, Loeb reversed his stance, tweeting, “We better understand the potential of @espn as a standalone business and another vertical for $DIS to reach a global audience for ad revenue and subscribers.”

Sports betting was at the heart of Loeb’s earlier drive to spin off ESPN.

“We look forward to Mr. Pitaro delivering on growth and innovation plans, creating significant synergies within The Walt Disney Company,” Loeb added in a tweet, referring to Disney Chairman James Pitaro.

Loeb’s rejection came shortly after Chapek told reporters during the Disney D23 Expo that he had big plans for ESPN’s future, without giving details.

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