Maryland Passes Bill To Limit College Sports Betting Partnerships

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The pressure has never been greater on sportsbooks to leave college campuses and in Maryland, college sports betting partnerships could soon be limited by law.

A college sports betting bill (S.B. 620), which already cleared the House, passed the Senate unanimously Wednesday and now heads to Gov. Wes Moore for his signature. It would require Maryland schools to disclose the full terms of any partnership with a sports betting company and prevent them from commission-based compensation per new user.

It would make Maryland the first state with such a law, though momentum to address college sports betting partnerships is bubbling in Washington D.C. and a handful of states across the country.

College sports betting scrutiny mounts

The bill sponsored by Sen. Shelly Hettleman targets the University of Maryland‘s partnership with PointsBet, which according to a company spokesman is free of any signup incentives. The sponsorship involves advertising in and around the university’s various sports arenas, as well as on-campus QR codes.

Hettleman told LSR she was inspired by a recent NY Times article about sports betting companies on college campuses and the potential for problem gambling that could foster. Marylanders legalized sports betting at the ballot in 2020, though online betting only began last year.

“Online gambling is new in Maryland, so reading that New York Times piece and finding out in Colorado they profitted every time a student signed up for an app, I wanted to make sure that wasn’t happening in our state,” Hettleman said.

Until last week, PointsBet had a similar partnership with the University of Colorado, which had involved the exact incentive Hettleman’s bill would ban; before scrapping it altogether, both sides nixed that portion amid backlash. The only other public deals between a sportsbook and college both involve Caesars, which is partnered with Louisiana State University and Michigan State.

More college scrutiny elsewhere

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal has written to both companies demanding they end those deals immediately. His letter to the American Gaming Association nudged the industry lobby to remove colleges from its allowed marketing groups, though Caesars nor PointsBet is an AGA member.

A petition calling for Michigan State to end its deal with Caesars just a few months in is circulating among students and faculty in East Lansing. Its author, Professor John Kerr, similarly said it was inspired by the Times coverage.

New York regulators are working on rules that would ban state schools from signing a deal with a sportsbook. New York is among several states that do not allow betting on in-state college sports teams.

University of Maryland welcomes transparency

Hettleman told LSR that the University of Maryland has been supportive of her bill. While it includes no penalty for noncompliance, flying in the face of state government is not something she sees schools doing. In Michigan, school officials have shown a willingness to the petitioners to reexamine the partnership, though they have yet to publicly say anything.

If signed, Maryland’s law would take effect on July 21.