On the heels of the American Gaming Association’s push for sportsbook operators to stop joining with colleges in deals that promote sports wagering, a group of Michigan State University faculty members is circulating a petition calling for an end to the MSU athletic department’s $9 million partnership with Caesars Sportsbook.
As The State reports, the MSU-Caesars partnership includes broadcast and video advertisements for Caesars during games, emails to Michigan State’s database of students, free tickets to games and seats on teams’ private planes for Caesars employees, and a clause that allows the company to “Caesarize” the tailgating spaces outside Spartan Stadium.
The AGA has asked for all sportsbooks to wind down their college partnerships by July 1. However, the AGA is not a rule-making body and Caesars is not a member of the AGA, meaning compliance with the organization’s “Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering” is entirely voluntary.
An ‘indefensible’ position
The MSU professors’ petition, which had been signed by 154 people as of late Tuesday afternoon, leads with a reminder of the mental health toll that February’s mass shooting on the school’s campus took on students, and later discusses the “devastating consequences” of problem gambling — including suicide.
“If we create even one problem gambler, that will be too many, but probably we are creating hundreds of them,” the petition reads. “MSU has declined to comment for any of the news stories about university partnerships with sports betting companies. Declining to comment is a good idea, because our position is indefensible. … With our partnership with Caesars … MSU is selling out for profit at the expense of our students’ well-being.”
In an emailed response to the petition obtained by The State, interim Provost Thomas Jeitschko said, “The petition’s aim is exactly what is being worked on now by the president, as she indicated in her remarks to the faculty Senate.”
It was reported that in those remarks, interim President Teresa Woodruff said she had questions about the school’s Caesars partnership and had instructed her staff to scrutinize it.
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