PointsBet Establish First Ever Betting Partnership With NCAA

PointsBet, a sports betting operator, has established the first ever partnership between a US college sports team and a bookmaker, dismantling yet another former taboo in the history of US sports.

It was brought to light on Tuesday – initially being reported by Sportico, then confirmed by the University of Colorado – that PointsBet had signed an exclusive ‘corporate partnership’ with the Colorado Buffaloes school, marking the first such deal between a Division-I athletics programme of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and a betting operator.

Technically the five-year deal is between PointsBet and the University of Colorado Athletics media rights holder, Learfield IMG College. PointsBet will provide CU Athletics with an unspecified “financial boost” in return for marketing opportunities in the school’s sports venues and through radio broadcasts of CU games and other media channels.

PointsBet will be allowed to promote ‘the entire category of gaming, including free-to-play sports games, daily fantasy sports, casino, online casino, and retail and online sports betting.’ This may seem odd given that most CU students are not old enough to wager, but PointsBet’s new partnership will reportedly ’emphasise and create awareness around responsible gaming and sports betting education.”

PointsBet has yet to launch operations in Colorado although in Denver’s Pepsi Center arena the company has established a marketing partnership that covers all pro-sport activities. PointsBet is also setting up its new corporate headquarters in Denver, which may have helped to seal the deal with its new partners in college.

The announcement is a far cry from the NCAA’s traditional betting approach, which involved hitting back hard on anyone who dared to tarnish the (alleged) purity of college athletics with wagering talk while perpetuating the fiction that college sports’ massive popularity wasn’t almost entirely due to sports wagering.

Like its major league counterparts, the NCAA eventually dropped its knee-jerk opposition to sports betting and has ever since tried to figure out a way to profit from wagering, even throwing a few financial crumbs at their ‘student-athletes.’

PointsBet is an Australian wagering operator who has made major inroads since their late-2018 US market debut in New Jersey. Since its inception in Indiana and Iowa, PointsBet has on the bubble a number of other states including Colorado, Illinois and Michigan.

PointsBet has recently signed a blockbuster deal with NBC Sports that the company hopes will provide marketing inroads into numerous other states as they become legally wagerable. It also  raised AU$200 m last week through a new share-placement that will help the company pay for its NBC deal ‘s significant advertising commitments.

PointsBet ‘s fiscal 2020 results showed revenue that nearly tripled year-on-year to AU$82 m in the 12 months ending June 30, as turnover doubled to AU$1.15b and active customers increased to almost two-fifths to 111k. Most of these figures are derived from Australian operations of the company, with net revenue of only $7 m from its nascent US operations.