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Going Forward, Sportsbooks Shouldn’t Do Deals With Universities, AGA Says

Going Forward, Sportsbooks Shouldn’t Do Deals With Universities, AGA Says article feature image

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Sportsbooks shouldn’t agree on new marketing deals with universities and their athletic programs, the American Gaming Association said on Tuesday.

The gambling industry’s trade association updated its Responsible Marketing Code, which would prohibit new partnerships with colleges that “promote, market or advertise sports wagering activity.”

Existing deals can continue as agreed upon, however. The code update will only apply to future partnerships.

Sportsbooks have existing partnerships with at least five universities, including LSU, Michigan State, Colorado, Maryland and Denver.

The board that determines this code includes five member representatives from existing sportsbooks — BetMGM, BetRivers, Hard Rock, Barstool and FanDuel — and does so in consultation with broader AGA members.

The code update came a day after Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) from Connecticut sent a letter to 66 universities with hefty athletic budgets inquiring whether the school has 1.) been solicited or has made a deal with a sports betting company, 2.) received deals that had the express purpose of marketing to students and 3.) instituted efforts to prevent sports betting from underaged students.

Barstool Sportsbook — which has a representative on the aforementioned AGA board — had previously been fined $250,000 in Ohio after targeting University of Toledo students for signups.

DraftKings was fined $500,000 in the same state after it mailed advertisements — many to people under the age of 21 — promoting its signup bonuses.

Barstool is also the sponsor for the Arizona Bowl. While it’s likely Barstool will be able to maintain that partnership, the company would have to refrain from advertising its sportsbook enterprise, according to the new bylaws.

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Meanwhile, PointsBet and Colorado partnered for a five-year, $1.625 million deal in 2020. The agreement included LED signage at the school’s football stadium and at least one mention by the public address announcer per game.

And until Jan. 2023, the university received $30 per PointsBet signup that used a University of Colorado promo code. That portion of the partnership has since been discontinued.

The AGA code update also adds that sportsbooks can’t pursue deals with athletes for their name, image and likeness.

Additional restrictions include making sure that anyone in sports gambling advertising is at least 21 and banning all uses of “risk-free” in marketing promotions.

“We know advertising plays an essential role in building a competitive legal market, migrating consumers away from the predatory illegal marketing, and advancing responsible gaming education while marketing problem gambling resources,” said Bill Miller, CEO of the AGA, in a statement. “We also know that a sustainable marketplace is dependent on our ability to advertise responsibly and protect consumers.”

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