Sports betting operator PointsBet has ended its partnership with the University of Colorado at Boulder, despite the partnership initially being signed for a five year term. This comes amidst increasing pressure on sports betting advertising, specifically in relation to colleges and those under the age of 21 being exposed to sports betting advertising.

A joint statement from PointsBet and UC-Boulder read: “PointsBet and the University of Colorado have decided it is mutually beneficial to end their partnership at this time. Both parties are thankful for the joint efforts throughout the relationship and wish the best for each organization going forward.”

Did the AGA pressure have an impact on University of Colorado x PointsBet?

It comes just a day after the American Gaming Association (“AGA”) announced changes to the AGA’s Responsible Marketing Code, established in 2019, specifically around college partnerships. Although PointsBet is not a member, it’s yet another example of changing attitudes towards sports betting partnerships initially signed quickly and without too much responsible gaming afterthought.

The changes read as follows:

  • Enhancing protections for college-aged audiences by:
    • Prohibiting college partnerships that promote, market or advertise sports wagering activity (other than to alumni networks or content focused on responsible gaming initiatives or problem gambling awareness).
    • Prohibiting sportsbook NIL deals for amateur and college athletes.
  • Adding age restrictions (21+) for any individual featured in sports betting advertising.
  • Changing all references to the “legal age of wagering” to 21-plus.
  • Banning all use of “risk free” in advertising.
  • Formalizing an annual process for reviewing and updating the Code.

What was the PointsBet x University of Colorado partnership?

The deal between University of Colorado at Boulder and PointsBet was signed in September 2020, and was set to last five years. The sponsorship saw PointsBet become an official partner of the school’s athletic department. It featured an affiliate deal, for which the alumni association received money for new PointsBet signups. The partnership also featured branding at the Folsom Field stadium when the college football team played, as well as in broadcasts of any college games called.

Are there other external pressures?

Other recent pressure comes from Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. He penned a letter to 66 colleges, warning of the dangers of sports betting advertising permeating campuses.

He wrote: “The opportunity for lucrative deals has caused some casinos and sportsbook to target universities, despite the very real harm gambling poses to students, many under the age to legally gamble. Experts have said that it can be difficult for young people to recognize their inability to gamble responsibly, so it is deeply concerning that universities are willing to partner with sports betting companies”.

PointsBet also have a partnership with the University of Maryland for Maryland sports betting, but no comment has currently been made on the status of the partnership. Given tightening gambling advertising restrictions across the United States, it would be unsurprising to see a cascade of partnerships being halted early. Barstool and DraftKings have already been fined a total of $750,000 in Ohio for breaches of advertising code relating to Ohio sports betting, and commercial operators will be keen to avoid further financial fines.