Universities across the country are signing multi-year contracts with sports betting companies left and right. Here in Michigan, one school, in particular, has received plenty of criticism after swiftly signing a five-year $8.4 million contract with Caesar’s sportsbook.
Outside of the state, schools like Louisiana State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder have also received judgment. As of March 2023, several schools have signed partnerships with sportsbooks, and over a dozen athletic departments have directly or through a booster club signed agreements with brick-and-mortar casinos.
Many of these sportsbook partnerships were formed so quickly that board members and key decision-makers were informed just hours before those partnerships were announced to the public. Like at the University of Colorado, when board members were informed of the decision with almost no notice. According to board member Jack Kroll, the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents didn’t learn of the deal “until maybe a couple of hours before the initial announcement was made . . . I think a lot of the regents at the time, myself included, had some concerns about the agreement and what it meant for college sports and the university to partner with a gambling operation.”
Many alumni are also concerned about their colleges’ behavior. Some argue that having an official sportsbook or casino partnership representing their school is like having an official cigarette or beer sponsorship.
Others against university/sportsbook partnerships offer an even greater concern, which is this: why are sportsbooks targeting gambling-prone individuals who are oftentimes just learning how to manage money? Considering almost 70% of students who receive a bachelor’s degree graduate with debt, spending money towards gambling shouldn’t be something we’re encouraging to students. Gambling and sports wagering can turn from an entertaining, exciting time to a sour experience rather quickly. From the marketing people have reported being displayed at these universities, it’s clear the books aren’t encouraging players to wager $5 or $10. They’re running promotions that start at $100 or even $1,000. Universities should consider what messages we’re passing on to the up-and-coming generation.
Too Easy to Rig
Another glaringly obvious reason for questioning these forms of sportsbook/university partnerships is the fact that it’s too easy to rig a sporting event. A missed three-pointer or a fumble is too easy to fake and 18-24-year-olds can easily be coaxed by their peers or family.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a regional accrediting body, stipulated in their standards for affiliation that all “athletic, student life, and other extracurricular activities are regulated by the same academic, fiscal, and administrative principles and procedures that govern all other programs.”
The NCAA “Ethical Conduct” guidelines of its bylaws in section 10.3 states that staff members of an athletic department, nonathletic department staff who have responsibilities over the athletics department, staff members of a conference office, and student-athletes “shall not knowingly participate in sports wagering activities or provide information to individuals involved in or associated with any type of sports wagering activities concerning intercollegiate, amateur or professional athletics competition.”
In the case of Michigan State University, the decision played a role in the resignation of their president back in October 2022. Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr. announced his resignation in a YouTube video, stating, “I, like the Michigan State University Faculty Senate and the Associated Students of Michigan State University, have lost confidence in the action of the current Board of Trustees and I cannot in good conscience continue to serve this board as constituted.”
All in all, we have the online sports betting marketplace divided over the issue. Do you think sportsbook and college partnerships should exist?
Mac Daniel is a writer for PlayOnlineCasino and PlayOnlineSportsBetting. He has experience writing about a wide variety of topics, including healthcare, tourism, non-profit organizations, and most recently casino and sportsbetting news. To check out more of his work, visit: playonlinemichigan.com