The University of Colorado announced Tuesday a five-year corporate sponsorship with the online bookmaker PointsBet, creating one of the first-ever partnerships between a sports betting company and an NCAA Division-I athletics program.
Professional sports leagues have embraced sports betting ever since the Supreme Court ruled the federal ban on it was unconstitutional in 2018, but the NCAA has resisted it.
Rick George, UC's athletic director, said that the school worked with the NCAA and its conference to get the deal done.
"I think it's going to expand moving forward, and I think the educational piece is going to be a critical part of that," George said in a virtual press conference Tuesday. "Having a partnership with somebody like PointsBet allows us, and having a partnership with our gaming industry in our state, will help us keep the integrity of our competition and our sport.
As part of this new deal, PointsBet will be featured at the University of Colorado's football stadium and will have its brand on signs in the school’s football stadium and basketball arena, plus a presence on radio broadcasts and other media. PointsBet, which is building its U.S. headquarters in Denver, will also support an athletic department program that helps prepare athletes for their careers post-college.
The deal will also likely give a welcome financial boost to the University of Colorado's athletic department, which like other athletic departments nationwide, has taken a huge hit during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pac-12, the athletic conference which UC belongs is a member of, announced last month that it is postponing all sports through the end of 2020, but will hopefully play next spring. Since football is played in the fall, this will lead to a massive financial shortfall for many athletic departments.
David Plati, UC director of sports information, said the University has already furloughed 35 employees and will furlough 25 more next week. It has also had to lay off a dozen staffers.
"The last thing we want to do is eliminate any sports (we have 17, one over the minimum) and are protecting that from happening," Plati said.
The sports betting industry has exploded in America since it became legal. According to ESPN, there are now 18 states with regulated sports betting markets, and $20 billion has been wagered since the Supreme Court struck down the ban two years ago.