There’s an interesting dichotomy between sports and gambling. They’re natural partners, and athletic events have been obvious sources of triumph and despair for avid wagerers all over the world. Having something invested in a contest makes a fan more emotionally connected to the occurrences on the field of play, and helps enhance brand awareness for the sport when additional die-hard eyeballs are locked in.
Even with that built-in relationship, there’s been a line that leagues and institutions have drawn between the betting world and the field of play. While they are certainly in favor of the attention and proceeds gambling can offer, leagues have largely not wanted the legitimacy of their product on the field to be questioned. Positioning themselves far away from that world was the way to accomplish that.
In recent years, we’ve seen that line blur, if not disintegrate, as professional sports leagues have partnered with gambling platforms. Now, we might start to see more universities go down that road.
Last year, the University of Colorado and PointsBet agreed on a sponsorship deal, and the state had its second such arrangement consummated earlier this month when the University of Denver and SuperBook agreed to a contract. The financial terms of the arrangement aren’t transparent as of yet, but the two will work together on branding campaigns and social media opportunities among other things.
University of Denver’s vice chancellor for athletics Karl Creech views this partnership as a positive for the school.
“We’re also excited about the opportunity for the proceeds of this partnership to directly impact our student-athletes’ experience at DU,” Creech commented. Via Casino.org
It will be intriguing to see how intertwined Sportsbook’s operation becomes with University of Denver athletics. With regards to the University of Colorado’s deal with Pointsbet, the school receives a kickback for every bettor that registers on the platform using a unique promo code. With that type of financial incentive, it leads one to believe that the university themselves would promote gambling since it is in their best interest to do so.
Not everyone believes that these type of partnerships should exist, including University of Pittsburgh athletic director Heather Lyke.
“Mental health and addictive behavior must be considered if young adults are exposed to gambling,” Lyke expressed. “It is not unreasonable to forsee students gambling away financial aid or work-study money on the ‘big game.’” Via InsideHigherEd.com
There’s also the potential unintended consequence of athletes placing bets on or against their own team. While theoretically this would be difficult to pull off with platforms collecting user data, it’s still a possible pitfall that schools and the college sports landscape must come to grips with. The NCAA has recently created a committee to discuss the future of college sports, and this topic should be prominently featured on their agenda.