Penn Entertainment appoints Aaron LaBerge as Chief Technology Officer

Disney Entertainment CTO leaving to take up same role at gaming company

Penn Entertainment has announced that Disney Entertainment‘s Chief Technology Officer Aaron LaBerge is leaving the company to take up the same role at the gaming and entertainment company.

LaBerge will begin work on July 1 and report directly to Penn CEO and President Jay Snowden.

In his new role, LaBerge will be charged with driving Penn’s technology strategy and execution, says a release. He will also lead the multinational team of technologists and serve as the key business leader for the company’s Interactive division.

LaBerge spent more than 20 years at the Walt Disney Company across two separate spells. He was most recently President & Chief Technology Officer for Disney Entertainment and ESPN. In that position, he was responsible for driving all technology and product development in support of Disney’s two media divisions. Penn says he “helped set the vision and strategic leadership for how Disney uses technology to enable storytelling and innovation, drive its business, and create unparalleled consumer experiences with entertainment and sports content.”

Snowden said there was “no better candidate” to lead Penn’s interactive division.

“Having overseen a global organization of thousands of engineers, product developers, designers, technologists, and data scientists that created some of the largest scale and most successful media properties in the world, there is no better candidate to lead our Technology and Interactive division into its future… to continue growing our position as a leader in online gaming, sports betting, and digital sports media.”

LaBerge said he is excited to join the team at Penn, a company “at the forefront of the fast-changing gaming and sports media industry.”

He replaces former Score Media and Gaming executive Benjie Levy, who joined when Penn acquired theScore in 2021 for $2 billion USD. The entire Levy family left Penn this year.

LaBerge looks to make ESPN Bet an ‘essential’ platform

A primary goal in LaBerge’s mandate will be to lead ESPN Bet, which ESPN and Penn rebranded from its previous life as Barstool Sportsbook, to greater market success in the U.S.

In particular, Snowden wants Penn to deepen ESPN Bet’s parlay product, which he calls “the gap” between ESPN Bet and sports betting leaders DraftKings and FanDuel, in time for NFL betting season to help ESPN Bet grow its wallet share out of users, Snowden said.

Snowden added that the app has captured mid- to high-teens percentage of weekly active users. It recently struck a deal to launch in New York by acquiring Wynn Interactive Holding’s online sports betting licenses in the Empire State for $25 million.

LaBerge said in Monday’s release that he plans to use his experience from Disney and ESPN “to help make ESPN Bet an essential piece of the sports fan experience.”

“Together, we’ll push the limits and redefine how fans interact with sports and gaming,” said the incoming CTO.

Penn Entertainment is a leading provider of integrated entertainment, sports content, and casino gaming experiences in North America, operating 43 properties in 20 states, online sports betting in 19 jurisdictions and iCasino in five jurisdictions. It has both sports betting and iGaming offerings live in Ontario under brands including theScore Bet.

The company says its “ability to leverage the leading sports media brands in the United States (ESPN) and Canada (theScore) is central to our highly differentiated strategy to expand our digital footprint and efficiently grow our customer ecosystem.”

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