Caesars has partnered with the Fiesta Bowl for a “first-of-its-kind” deal between a US sportsbook and a college bowl game.
Under the agreement, Caesars will host fan lounges in-stadium at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and Guaranteed Rate Bowl, both in Arizona. Caesars will also become the title partner of the Fiesta Bowl’s pregame parties.
Caesars Arizona breaks new ground
“We’re thrilled to work with the Fiesta Bowl Organization on this landmark partnership to bring college football fans closer to the game,” said Dan Shapiro, Chief Development Officer of Caesars Digital.
While the deal is the first between a sportsbook operator and a bowl game, Barstool Sports (the media company) will also sponsor an Arizona bowl game this year.
Also of note, Caesars Sportsbook will be able to take mobile bets from fans at the Fiesta Bowl game.
BetMGM will meanwhile have a retail book at the venue itself (State Farm Stadium) thanks to a licensing deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
Is the NCAA softening on sports betting?
College sports has not yet embraced sports betting in the same way as pro leagues, thanks in large part to opposition from the NCAA.
NCAA rules ban college athletes and athletics department staff from “knowingly participating in sports wagering activities”.
Back in 2019, NCAA president Mark Emmert said sports betting was going to “threaten the integrity of college sports in many ways unless we are willing to act boldly and strongly.”
This latest deal suggests a softening of that stance. That said, bowl games are their own commercial entities that are separate from the NCAA.
“This is a new frontier in the college football space,” added Fiesta Bowl Chief Marketing Officer Jose Moreno. “The Fiesta Bowl is again out in front with this fan-focused partnership.”
Caesars pressing hard in Arizona, beyond
Sports betting in Arizona officially goes live on September 9.
Launch will include Caesars Sportsbook, which has a licensing deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The company will also have a retail sportsbook at Chase Field.
The Fiesta Bowl sponsorship is the latest marketing splash from Caesars as it rolls out its revamped sportsbook app. The company recently bought naming rights for the Superdome in New Orleans, with legal sports betting coming soon to Louisiana.
Caesars has pledged to spend $1 billion on sports betting over the next 2.5 years.