Bob Iger Backtracks, Goes All in on Disney Gambling

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Walt Disney’s CEO is showing major support for gambling.

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger in front of Cinderella Castle
Credit: Inside the Magic

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It’s been a big week for Disney, with the company announcing that it plans to launch a branded sportsbook betting system with ESPN very soon. This will begin this fall in 16 states. The Walt Disney Company has owned ESPN since 1995, and much like ABC, the two companies have a rich history together.

ESPN is also represented at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

However, this news is rather shocking when considering how Disney’s CEO felt about sports betting just a few years ago.

Bob Iger posing in front of several screens displaying various Disney owned properties
Credit: Disney

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When rumors first started swirling about The Walt Disney Company getting into the sports betting world, CEO Bob Iger shut down the idea rather quickly.

“I don’t see The Walt Disney Company, certainly in the near term, getting involved in the business of gambling.”

It is rather shocking to see a company like Disney embrace the world of gambling like this, but as the hobby becomes more and more popular, we can’t say we’re all that surprised, especially when considering the sheer amount of money there is to be made for organizers.

DraftKings, a popular sports betting app, has made an estimated $3 billion since 2019.

Iger took over the role of CEO after The Walt Disney Company axed Bob Chapek, an executive who served as CEO for only two years. Chapek left a legacy of controversy, becoming 0ne of the most divisive figures in the company’s history.

Bob Iger (left) and Bob Chapek (right) at 'Star Wars': Galaxy's Edge
Credit: Disney

Under Chapek, a lot of things changed for Disney, especially at the theme parks. Guests have Chapek to thank for Disney Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lane, systems that are incredibly controversial and exponentially inflate the cost of a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World.

However, it was actually Chapek who made the push for Disney to get into the world of sports betting. Chapek explained his desire for The Walt Disney Company to add this business to its portfolio many times, and now it’s become a reality.

What are your thoughts on this decision? Do you watch ESPN? Do you like Bob Iger? 

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