A new proposal in the Connecticut legislature could affect the Connecticut gambling industry in terms of restricting advertising. The proposal aims to bar public institutions or establishments of higher education from receiving money for soliciting students to gamble online.
Under HB 5232, public universities could still accept sponsorships from Connecticut sportsbooks but could not directly market gambling to students.
Introduced by Rep. Amy Morrin Bello, the bill has recently advanced out of the legislature’s higher education committee.
Connecticut gambling bill HB 5232 came after New York Times articles
Bello said she isn’t aware if this kind of direct solicitation happens in Connecticut. But she has read about it occurring in other states. She said the idea for the bill came after she read the New York Times article.
The Times published stories detailing the partnerships between universities and sports betting operators. In 2020, the University of Colorado signed a 5-year $1.6M agreement with PointsBet, including advertising space at CU sporting events. It also included a $30 referral bonus every time users downloaded the PointsBet gambling app.
In another example, the Times story mentioned the Louisiana State University. The article cited that the school urged students, even those underaged, to gamble using a special promo code.
As Bello told CTInsider:
“I was really shocked to see that schools are profiting off this practice. I want to make sure that the universities (in Connecticut) are not distributing email lists to these companies, or the university is not sending out emails from these companies.”
Concerns about colleges marketing sportsbooks to students remain
Legal sports gambling in Connecticut came in the fall of 2021 after the US Supreme Court annulled a law banning it. US legal sports betting becoming increasingly widespread leads to concerns about gambling addiction, especially among teenagers.
With that in mind, six Connecticut legislators – five Democrats and one Republican – co-sponsored the new proposal. Bello said she hopes that HB 5232 will come up for a vote in the broader legislature.
Even if the bill comes up for a vote, it will not limit schools from promoting sportsbooks outside the university. And it would not restrict receiving referral bonus payments from sportsbooks in such cases. The only restriction would include marketing sportsbooks to students.
Furthermore, this bill would not affect the marketing of either brick-and-mortar or Connecticut online casinos.