Last Updated on August 15, 2023
The legalization and rise of sports betting has been one of the most significant developments in the sports landscape the past decade. There may be no better example than the NFL — a league that once banned advertisements for Las Vegas now has a team there and has deals with sports books. The proliferation has also gone the opposite way as leagues try to enforce integrity and ban players from sports betting.
The influence of sports betting has also made its way to the collegiate level. While some states have more restrictions on what is fair game, sports betting as a whole seems to be here to stay in college athletics.
A Lucrative Development
In 2018, Delaware joined Nevada as the first two states to have legal single-game sports bets, but it was New Jersey that brought sports betting’s legality all the way to the Supreme Court. Options now include in-person sports betting as well as growing availability of online betting apps, with states having their own unique policies on which ones are legal.
With college sports events such as March Madness and the College Football Playoff among the most-watched and most-anticipated events on the sports calendar, these events have become a hub for sports betting. According to the American Gaming Association, 45 million people planned to wager over $3 billion on March Madness games in 2022. As a whole, Variety found that Americans spent nearly $80 billion on sports wagering, with March Madness listed as one of the most popular events.
The NCAA also did its own research into the topic and found that 58% of 18- to 22-year-olds have been involved in a sports betting activity.
College Team Deals
College athletics programs themselves haven’t sidestepped sports betting. Michigan State announced a deal with Caesars Sportsbook in Jan. 2022, while Big Ten rival Maryland agreed to terms with PointsBet as an official partner. LSU, the University of Colorado and University of Nevada-Las Vegas are three other prominent and decorated sports programs who have current or former deals with sportsbooks or sports betting companies.
Although many state NIL laws prohibit athletes from promoting sports betting, MaximBet took advantage of a lack of restriction in Colorado’s state law to offer NIL deals to every female athlete in Colorado in 2021.
Concerns about protecting the integrity of the games, a major issue with year-long suspensions already enforced in the NFL, are a key aspect of the discussion around college sports betting as well.
According to projections compiled by the Action Network, 35 of 50 U.S. states allow legalized betting in some form, with additional states having pending legislation or potentially in the works of drafting betting legislation. Some of the biggest and most prominent states in the college sports landscape, such as California, Texas, Florida and Georgia, do not have legislation to legally gamble in college sports games in their state.
Considering the sheer amount of money and interest that sports betting brings to college athletics, the issue will continue to be one of the most influential stories to watch for college sports fans.