The deal included marketing material at CU sporting events. The school received a payment from PointsBet for every bettor that signed up using a CU promo code.
“PointsBet and the University of Colorado have decided it is mutually beneficial to end their partnership at this time. Both parties are thankful for the joint efforts throughout the relationship and wish the best for each organization going forward,” the two sides said in a statement provided to the New York Times and other media outlets.
A wide range of marketing practices has come under increasing scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers in recent months. In part sparked by a series of Times articles from late last year, gaming stakeholders have reevaluated many of the sports betting marketing practices that had become common in the roughly five years since the Supreme Court struck down the federal wagering ban.
The American Gaming Association, the nation’s most prominent industry advocacy group, recently updated its marketing standards to prohibit such partnerships as the one between PointsBet and CU. This came as part of a sweeping update that also prohibited AGA-partnered sportsbooks from featuring advertisements with people under age 21 or agreeing to sponsorships with athletes under that age as well.
Though most states, including Colorado, prohibit sports bets from bettors under age 21, multiple sportsbooks struck partnerships in recent years with major universities where the majority of undergraduate students are younger than the legal wagering age. This drew criticism from stakeholders at the time and has only accelerated following the Times articles.PointsBet also has a deal with the University of Maryland. Maryland lawmakers are considering legislation that could ban such partnerships.
Caesars has similar deals with Louisiana State University and Michigan State University. William Hill, which was later acquired by Caesars, struck the nation’s first such sportsbook-college partnership with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It remains unclear if these deals will also be ended.
Going forward, it appears any further partnerships will be increasingly unlikely.
Larger marketing crackdown trends
The reconsideration of college partnerships and the updated AGA code follow some of the most substantial regulatory crackdowns in the brief history of US sports betting outside Nevada.
Regulators in Ohio and Massachusetts, the most recent states to launch legal online sports betting, have prohibited the use of terms such as “risk free bet” in marketing material, starting a crackdown that has led major sportsbooks to cease using that term in other states. The AGA has also prohibited that term in its recent marketing update.
Major US operators including FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars, which combined have more than 80% of national market share by handle, have each spent hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising, promotions and other player acquisition costs in just the past three years. This has drawn growing scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers in a manner similar to the reactions following the barrage of daily fantasy sports ads that came with the beginning of daily fantasy sports nearly a decade ago.
More than 30 states have approved at least one legal online or retail sportsbook and more than a half dozen have introduced legislation to do so this calendar year.