A group of Michigan State professors is petitioning the university to end its sponsorship with Caesars Sportsbook, as national concern over college sports betting comes to a boil.
Drawing inspiration from a New York Times story, the petition outlines the agreement’s potential to foster problem gambling among Michigan State’s student body. It has drawn more than 280 signatures since it was posted Tuesday.
Community sustainability professor John Kerr led the petition.
“Taking a page from the stereotypical image of a drug pusher, Caesars and the other large online gambling companies lure customers with free bets worth hundreds of dollars. Young men tend to be eager recruits; being knowledgeable about sports leads many of them to assume they will be successful gamblers,” the petition reads.
Professor: Michigan State already looking at deal
Kerr told LSR that university officials indicated to the faculty group that acting Interim President Teresa Woodruff is already looking at ending the partnership, but the athletic department’s involvement has prolonged the process.
“Hopefully if we get a lot of support for the community, it make that process easier,” Kerr said.
Officials with Michigan State and Caesars did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“MSU has declined to comment for any of the news stories about university partnerships with sports betting companies. Declining to comment is a good idea, because our position is indefensible,” the petition reads.
College sports betting deals examined
Under the deal, Caesars retains exclusive sports betting advertising rights at MSU games and access to the student body’s email database. Additional details are not public.
It is one of several college sports betting partnerships under recent fire. Last week. PointsBet and the University of Colorado ended their partnership agreement, months after criticism around a portion of the deal that paid the university for users it signed up.
Caesars is also partnered with Louisiana State University, which both received backlash last year for marketing emails sent to students under Louisiana‘s legal gambling age of 21.
Sen. Blumenthal wants college sports betting details
US Senator Richard Blumenthal recently sent more than 60 letters to universities asking for details of any ties to sports betting companies and urging them to cut those ties if they exist. A few days later, the American Gaming Association struck college partnerships from its marketing guidelines, though neither Caesars nor PointsBet are AGA members.
Mental health concern after MSU mass shooting
The petition cites the recent mass shooting on MSU’s campus as an additional reason to reconsider the mental health risks associated with promoting sports betting to students.
“Anybody who is an instructor at any college has seen this explosion of mental health problems for students, even before Covid. The shooting really put us over the edge and there’s been a good amount of press about problem gambling addictions and what the consequences are,” Kerr told LSR. “MSU is really serious about looking after its students well being, but having this sponsorship of an online gambling company doesn’t seem to fit with that.”
Problem gamblers have the highest suicide rate of any addiction disorder, according to the petition, which cites a news article on a 2017 Ohio problem gambling report.