Problem Gambling Advocates Issue College Sports Betting Partnership Guidelines

Posted on March 26, 2021

The National Council on Problem Gambling this week released a set of suggested college sports betting partnership guidelines.

The NCPG released a report and the set of recommendations on Tuesday in the midst of Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte said the guidelines come as part of the larger Safer Sports Betting Initiative to help establish a “sustainable and healthy gambling ecosystem.”

The move is meant to help curb a potential rise in problem gambling in young adults. According to the council, college students and athletes in particular are more susceptible to problem gambling.

“They are at higher risk for lots of risk-taking behavior mainly due to their age and lack of maturity,” Whyte said. “But never in their lifetimes, or ever in the history of the US, has there been this much advertising, access, action and acceptability of sports betting.”

Colleges sports betting partnerships guidelines

As colleges and sportsbook operators begin to sign partnerships, the NCPG suggests avoiding incentives based on signups, participation and revenue, handle or profit targets.

Other operator guidelines include:

  • A minimum of 1% of revenue dedicated to prevent and treat gambling addiction.
  • Comprehensive employee training on responsible gambling.
  • Ability to set limits on time and money spent on betting.
  • Partner with universities on athlete protection and education.
  • Provide universities with data on betting activity and patterns.
  • Strict age gate verification and operations beyond self-verification.

Colleges to take responsibility too

The NCPG also suggests colleges bear responsibility in responsible sports betting partnerships as well.

Those guidelines include:

  • Not accepting incentives on signups or monetary goals.
  • Require partners to have a formal responsible gambling policy.
  • Provide training and education to athletic departments and student-athletes.
  • Provide gambling policies in student codes of conduct.
  • Set standards for sports betting advertising and promotion on-campus and university-affiliated properties.
  • Offer problem gambling treatment on-campus.

State considerations

A majority of the recommendations are for colleges and operators, but state governments received some as well.

  • Conduct gambling participation and addiction surveys for high school and college students on sports betting so adjustments can be made.
  • Provide at least 1% of sports betting revenue to address problem gambling.
  • Establish responsible gaming regulations for operators and vendors.

University of Colorado sports betting head start

In September 2020, PointsBet signed a five-year deal with the University of Colorado worth at least $1.625 million. PointsBet’s US headquarters is in Colorado.

Announcing the deal, PointsBet CEO Johnny Aitken and Colorado Athletic Director Rick George both mentioned “responsible gaming awareness.”

The deal includes signage in Colorado’s football stadium and basketball arena, as well as other media placements. There are also student career development opportunities with the company.

Colorado will receive a $30 referral fee for each new PointsBet customer it refers, according to Sports Illustrated.

In Nevada, William Hill has partnerships with UNLV and University of Nevada, Reno that date back to 2017.

Opposition to college sports betting partnerships

University of Pittsburgh Athletic Director Heather Lyke advocated in a federal hearing for a nationwide ban on college athletics wagers.

“The introduction of legal wagering on intercollegiate athletics will have a corrosive and detrimental impact on student-athletes and the general student body alike,” Lyke said. “Gambling creates pressures and temptations that should not exist.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert has opposed college sports gambling in the past, saying it could threaten the integrity of the games.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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