Promotional partnerships between colleges/universities and gambling companies are becoming increasingly unpopular. You can now count faculty members at Michigan State University among those who are not fans of the premise.
Nearly 300 people have signed a petition that a faculty group at MSU started. The petition asks the university to discontinue its partnership with Caesars Entertainment. However, university leadership has already expressed that doing so could prove complicated.
Caesars Entertainment operates several Michigan online gambling brands. Those include Caesars Casino, Caesars Sportsbook, and WSOP.com.
MSU faculty initiate petition to cancel Caesars partnership
The faculty group, led by Community Sustainability Professor John Kerr, posted their petition on Tuesday. It’s open for public participation. The demands of the petition are quite clear. It states that “MSU should immediately terminate its agreement with Caesars.”
Caesars became a sponsor of the Spartans in January 2020. In exchange for “a significant financial commitment to MSU,” Caesars’ signage has been featured prominently at athletic events on campus.
Also, Caesars has offered customers special offers related to MSU sporting events on its sportsbook platform. Those are the exact elements of the relationship between Caesars and MSU that the petition aims at.
The petition says that “with our partnership with Caesars, this is who MSU is; selling out for profit at the expense of our students’ well-being” in mentioning the signage on campus. The petition also mentions Michigan sports betting bonus offers as well.
There is no specified end date for the petition drive. It may have already garnered limited results, though.
Online gambling partnership benefits MSU’s athletic department
The end of the petition specifically names interim MSU President Teresa Woodruff. According to Sam McQuillan of Legal Sports Report, Woodruff has responded to the group already. However, Woodruff’s response is probably insufficient in the group’s eyes.
Woodruff shared that she has already been looking at ending the partnership. However, because it involves funding for the university’s athletic department, a clean break is not simple. That corresponds with what has been happening nationally on this subject.
These sponsorship deals are receiving increased scrutiny lately. For example, US Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has inquired about such gambling sponsorships with over 60 colleges and universities across the country.
Additionally, legislators are close to modifying Maryland gambling laws to limit such partnerships. Such measures might become necessary as gambling companies and colleges/universities ending these deals voluntarily have been minimal thus far.
While PointsBet and the University of Colorado discontinued their partnership, that has been the exception as opposed to the rule. PointsBet maintains a similar deal with the University of Maryland. Additionally, Caesars continues as a sponsor not only of MSU but Louisiana State University as well.
It’s unclear if this petition will change that situation. At the very least, Michigan State University cannot claim it has broad support from its faculty if it elects to continue. Furthermore, that choice could only act to substantiate the allegations of the institution putting profit before student welfare.