It seems every day we are shown legal sports betting and college sports mix like oil and water.
Under mounting pressure, Michigan State University and Caesars Sportsbook have reportedly ended their partnership. According to the Lansing State Journal, the two parties terminated the roughly $9 million, multi-year, deal four years ahead of schedule.
In January 2021, MSU was thrilled to announce Caesars as its official sportsbook and igaming partner. But a year and a half later, both MSU and Caesars were less enthusiastic about their multi-year deal. Alan Haller of MSU recently told SBC Americas, “Initially, it was a good thing, but I don’t think it’s in our best interest moving forward.”
Hasty deals meet mounting pressure
For decades, sports betting was banned in most of the US. A Supreme Court ruling, however, lifted that ban in 2018. Since then, everything concerning legalized sports betting has moved at breakneck speed. To date, 37 states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting. As soon as a state legalized sports betting, sportsbook operators rushed to close new marketing and advertising deals.
In hindsight, advertising deals that could conceivably target college students deserved more scrutiny.
In March, the American Gaming Association (AGA) updated its “Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering,” the trade group’s guidelines for promoting legal sports betting. The changes included banning college partnerships touting wagering activity (unless to alumni networks or focused on responsible gaming) and a prohibition on sportsbook name, image, and likeness deals with amateur and college athletes.
Just last week, the NCAA published a survey, which found 67% of students living on campus bet on sports. The survey found that “advertisements have a major influence on betting activity: 63% of on-campus students recall seeing betting ads. This is a higher rate than that found in the general population or those that commute/virtually attend college, and 58% of those students indicate they are more likely to bet after seeing the ads.”
One of many
The MSU and Caesars deal, facilitated by Playfly Sports, is the just latest shoe — but not the last shoe — to drop in the college sports betting saga.
In March, PointsBet and the University of Colorado decided to cut ties. A month later, PointsBet terminated its marketing deal with the University of Maryland.
In April, the Maryland House and Senate passed a bill to prohibit the state’s colleges and universities from receiving compensation from online sports betting sites and sportsbook marketing agents based on student participation in sports wagering.
Signed into law by Governor Wes Moore in May, the law also requires public colleges and universities to disclose any contact with sports betting entities. Although the PointsBet deal would not have necessarily violated the new law, the public opinion tide has unmistakably turned.
There are still two universities with sportsbook partnerships. In 2021, Louisiana State signed a multi-year deal with Caesars (via Playfly Sports), becoming the first SEC team to sign with a sports betting partner. Meanwhile, the University of Denver has a multi-year partnership with SuperBook.