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Colleges are making millions of dollars by promoting sports gambling to their students

Wayness Tamm

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Multiple universities - with more likely to start in the future - have signed multimillion-dollar deals to promote online sports gambling to their students according to an article in The New York Times. The Times article profiles arrangements at four institutions: Michigan State University, Louisiana State University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Colorado Boulder. Both Michigan State and Louisiana State made agreements with a sports betting company, Caesars Sportsbook, in 2022 and 2021 respectively.

According to the Times, Michigan State's five-year deal was worth over eight million dollars.

After Louisiana State University signed a similar deal in 2021 with Caesars, the university sent an email encouraging recipients — including some students who were under 21 and couldn’t legally gamble — to “place your first bet (and earn your first bonus).

Because many of these deals are handled by marketing companies that act as intermediaries between the colleges and the gaming industry, they are legally exempt from most public scrutiny.

Unlike public universities, which are subject to government disclosure rules and freedom of information requests, the sports-marketing companies are privately held. That means the terms of the deals they strike don’t have to be publicly disclosed if the universities are not a party to the contracts.

The website College Gambling notes:

The most recent research estimates that 6 percent of college students in the U.S. have a serious gambling problem that can result in psychological difficulties, unmanageable debt and failing grades. Research has shown that teenagers and college-aged young adults are more impulsive and at higher risk for developing gambling disorders than adults. 

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