Caesars Ends LSU, Michigan State College Sports Betting Deals

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Caesars is ending its last two known US college sports betting partnerships amid heightened concern about state and federal regulatory action.

A spokesperson for PlayFly Sports, the media rightsholder for athletic departments at LSU and Michigan State, confirmed both schools are finalizing the termination of their agreements to market Caesars Sportsbook. Both had multiple years left on their deals.

Details of Michigan State’s termination were first reported by the Lansing State Journal.

Caesars, PointsBet out on college sports betting deals

Four schools have cut ties with betting sponsors since US Sen. Richard Blumenthal began calling on them to do so. In late March, Blumenthal called on 66 schools to disclose the details of all payments from betting companies, highlighting problem gambling risks for their students, the majority of whom are under most states’ legal betting age of 21.

The American Gaming Association banned its members from promoting betting on campus as well.

PointsBet has since ended its partnerships with the University of Colorado and the University of Maryland, though those decisions were unrelated to the AGA. Like Caesars, PointsBet is not an AGA member.

What changed in three years?

Once sold as an extra revenue stream to keep athletic departments afloat during the pandemic, these multimillion-dollar partnerships likely were not returning enough value for sportsbooks to justify the backlash against them.

In a recent earnings call, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said winding down team partnerships is part of the company’s strategy to generate a profit from sports betting. He has been vocal about past assumptions regarding their value not quite playing out as hoped.

Under its college pacts, Caesars retained exclusive sports betting advertising rights at LSU and MSU games.

Local push to ditch Caesars

LSU was criticized after a New York Times article revealed it erroneously sent emails to students with Caesars signup offers, encouraging them to use a school-specific promo code.

Drawing from the same article, a group of Michigan State professors launched a petition in April to end their school’s betting partnership. The author previously told LSR school officials had indicated they were exploring a breakup with Caesars before the petition.

“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.

Neither LSU nor Michigan State returned a request for comment.

Pols act on college sports betting deals

The New York Times article was cited throughout Maryland‘s 2023 lawmaking session, which saw the passage of a bill that requires schools to disclose all details of any arrangements with sports betting companies. It also prevents schools from being compensated for users who signup via a campus promo.

While that was not an element of the University of Maryland’s deal, it had been a controversial and subsequently removed clause in the Colorado deal.

New Jersey is weighing adding more responsible gambling resources at public colleges, as well as an outright ban on partnerships between schools and sportsbooks. Meanwhile, New York is in the process of its own college advertising restrictions for licensed gaming operators.