March Madness certainly is one of the biggest events that associates sports betting with college athletics.
However, for responsible gambling advocates, the Madness comes from the looming presence sports betting can have on college campuses.
As of January, eight different colleges had advertising partnerships with a legal sportsbook. Included in that is Michigan State University.
While responsible gambling education continues to be a push for Michigan teenagers, more steps could be taken to aid college students.
Michigan State partnership with Caesars sportsbook
In January of 2022, Michigan State announced a partnership with Caesars Sportsbook. The deal was advertised as an “official and exclusive sports betting and iGaming partnership” between MSU and Caesars.
Michigan State wasn’t the first to partner with Caesars, but the dangers of these partnerships were highlighted quickly.
LSU also has a partnership with Caesars. In 2021, the sportsbook sent emails to the LSU student body for a first-time betting bonus. Among the recipients of the offer were many students under the legal betting age of 21.
Among the promotions sportsbooks currently have is a referral program that will give a customer an amount of bonus money if they get new customers to sign up. These offers have become popular on college campuses, as a high percentage of college students are unable to make a lot of money while in school.
“My one buddy, he’s trying to get people to sign up because they have a refer a friend (offer), where you get 50 bucks to bet with,” MSU junior Josh Erno told WKAR. “Stuff like that does encourage people to get their friends to sports bet, so I guess I have been persuaded in that way.”
NCPG pushing for stricter sports betting guidelines on college campuses
As universities began striking partnerships with sportsbooks, the National Council on Problem Gambling issued a report on guidelines they’d like to see for how these partnerships should work.
The NCPG remains concerned about the influence these partnerships can have on underage gambling and gambling addiction in young adults.
The NCPG proposes sports betting operators involved in these partnerships should:
- Not offer incentives, especially monetary incentives, to institutions of higher learning based in any way on participation in sports betting by individuals.
- Provide data to colleges and universities on betting activity and patterns to inform problem gambling efforts.
- Set strict age-gate verification policies and operations that go beyond lip service and self-verification.
- Not accept any incentives based on participation by individuals in sports betting.
- Set standards and policies for what type of sports betting advertising and promotion can occur, and where it can occur.
- Offer problem gambling treatment services on campus for anyone who might need it.
According to the International Center for Responsible Gambling, about 6% of college students in the United States say they have a serious gambling problem.
State regulations vary for college sports betting
Each state has varied rules and regulations based on betting on college athletics.
While states with legalized sports betting do allow betting on things like college football and college basketball, some states don’t allow you to bet on teams located in that very state.
States and localities that don’t allow betting on a college team within their borders are:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Washington D.C.
Some states also don’t allow prop wagers for college athletics entirely.
Gambling education could be coming to Michigan schools
Last month, Sen. Joseph N. Bellino Jr. (R-Monroe) introduced Senate Bill 54 calling for responsible gambling education to be taught in Michigan schools.
The bill would require the state Department of Education to develop a grade-and-age-appropriate model program of instruction on gambling addiction by July 1, 2024. It would be available to school districts and public-school academies.
According to the NCPG, between 60-80% of high school students say they gambled for money in the past year.
The NCPG also says 4-6% of high school students are considered addicted to gambling.
While RG education could be coming to grade-level students in Michigan, nothing has been proposed for education at Michigan’s universities.