Aspects Of Colorado University Partnerships With Sportsbooks Remain Controversial

Written By Aleeyah Jadavji on 03/24/2023
Colorado university partnerships with sportsbooks still questioned

Some continue to question partnerships between universities and sportsbooks. The main argument is that these Colorado university partnerships with sportsbooks promote gambling to young and underage students.

The University of Colorado in Boulder was one of the first universities to partner with a sportsbook. CU signed an agreement with sports betting company PointsBet in 2020. A year later, the University of Denver partnered with SuperBook Sports.

Despite efforts from schools and sportsbooks to promote responsible gambling, the controversy surrounding these partnerships remains.

Main Worry Over Colorado University Partnerships With Sportsbooks Is The Promotion Of Gambling To Young Students

Colorado online sports betting went live in May 2020, six months after voters approved both retail and online betting in the state. While betting on college sports is allowed, prop betting on college games remains illegal in The Centennial State.

In September 2020, the first of two deals between a university in Colorado and a sportsbook was made. CU sealed a $1.625 million, five-year partnership with PointsBet. In 2021, DU signed a multi-year deal with SuperBook Sports.

The goal of the deals, at least from the perspective of the sportsbooks, was to advertise at sporting events and attract students, alumni, and fans to the sportsbook. This sparked much controversy, with considerable backlash from the community and across the nation.

The top complaint was that these companies were introducing sports betting to an immature audience. People worried that bad gambling habits could take root, especially with students.

Referral Bonus Became A Bone Of Contention

As part of the original deal between CU and PointsBet, the company paid the university a $30 referral bonus for each person who signed up with the sportsbook using the CU promotional code.

That part of the agreement shocked many, including members of CU’s Intercollegiate Athletics Committee. The IAC was able to persuade CU Chancellor Philip DiStefano and Athletics Director Rick George to funnel the referral bonus money into a problem gambling program, said IAC Chair Seth Hornstein.

“We felt it would make something good come out of the agreement. Some of that money would be invested back into the university to help student-athletes and students, staff and faculty in general.

Discussions on that part of the agreement continued for two more years. Two months ago, CU and PointsBet agreed to remove the bonus incentive altogether.

Partnerships Give Students A Chance To Work In The Sports Industry

Another controversial aspect of CU’s partnership with PointsBet concerns career recruitment. While students, and some departments at the university, welcome these vital job opportunities, others say it promotes profits over the negative impacts of gambling on society.

PointsBet officials routinely attend career fairs at CU to recruit mostly engineering and business students to work at its headquarter offices in Denver. SuperSports does the same at DU.

PointsBet in particular offers students internships with the company that eventually become full-time jobs for many after graduation.

CU Alum Says PointsBet Focuses On Responsible Gambling Practices

CU alum Ben Friedman graduated with a business degree in 2019. He was one of the many students that gained full-time employment at PointsBet Colorado Sportsbook.

Friedman says PointsBet takes problem gambling very seriously and does a lot to educate students at CU. The company also provides responsible gambling training to employees, he said.

Friedman pointed to responsible gambling features in the company’s online app. They include time limit filters, deposit and betting limits, and a security system in place to flag questionable betting activities.

Photo by David Zalubowski/AP Photo
Aleeyah Jadavji Avatar
Written by
Aleeyah Jadavji

Aleeyah hails from Toronto, Ontario in Canada and has been working predominantly in the poker industry since 2015. From writing articles to interviewing big winners and live reporting on poker's biggest stages, she's seen it all. Aleeyah loves to cook and create content to showcase her passion for food and travel. She now reports on all facets of the growing U.S. gambling industry.

View all posts by Aleeyah Jadavji