It appears Colorado is becoming one of the most state-of-the-art sports wagering markets in the U.S.
Kicking off wagering in early May, Colorado, a pioneer in the marijuana industry, has benefited from enacting an industry-friendly law and adopting industry-friendly regulations, making it the most attractive legalized market west of the Mississippi for upstart online/mobile sports wagering firms. Most importantly for the industry, the taxes and fees for sports betting authorization are very low.
Sports betting companies rushed into the market to launch products on May 1, despite massive uncertainty at the time about the U.S. sports landscape due to the pandemic. At the time, both the NBA and MLB seasons were in limbo, with table tennis carrying the betting load.
The sportsbooks took just $25.6 million in wagers in May, growing to more than $59 million in July.
One of those operators to makes moves to enter the market as soon as possible was PointsBet, a sportsbook with only about 2% market share in the U.S., far behind the more than 60% belonging to the DFS giants DraftKings and FanDuel. PointsBet isn’t yet live in Colorado, but it said in a presser that it expects to launch “soon” in the Centennial State.
In recent months, PointsBet has made major moves, including a high-profile deal with NBCUniversal. On Tuesday, PointsBet continued its own momentum while also showing that Colorado is emerging as a cutting-edge market already warming greatly to legalized online/mobile sports betting.
Partnership with Colorado Buffaloes
The Australia-based bookmaker, active in New Jersey, Indiana, and Iowa, inked a corporate sponsorship deal with Learfield IMG College, the media rights holder of University of Colorado Athletics. The deal will give PointsBet “visibility at Folsom Field and the CU Events Center through gameday promotions and advertising space, as well as placement on CU Buffs radio broadcasts and other media channels.”
The five-year deal makes PointsBet a “proud partner” of the Colorado Buffaloes, a presser stated.
PointsBet touted the exclusive partnership as the “first ever between a sports betting operator and a major NCAA Division-I” athletic program. In Nevada, William Hill has a marketing arrangement with the University of Nevada Las Vegas, as well as the University of Nevada Reno, so the PointsBet deal is the first of its kind outside of the Silver State in this post-PASPA landscape.
“As a tech company at heart that is proud to call the state of Colorado home, we are thrilled to announce this partnership as part of our ongoing quest to become synonymous with Colorado sports betting,” Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA, said in a statement. “Since announcing our plans for a new headquarters in Denver, we’ve consistently stated our desire to work closely with the state’s first-class university system and rich pool of tech talent. It is an honor to become a partner of the Colorado Buffaloes, where we look forward to bolstering general sports betting knowledge and responsible gaming awareness while recruiting some of the best and brightest minds to help install a foundation for prolonged success.”
In July 2019, PointsBet announced it would make Denver its “western base of operations.” The presser announcing the partnership arrangement with the Buffaloes stated that PointsBet “recently began construction” of the new downtown headquarters.
In addition to the university sponsorship deal, PointsBet has linked up with the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets for marketing purposes. PointsBet has been one of the most active books in the nascent U.S. market in terms of partnerships with sports groups.
PointsBet is also an online casino gambling firm, offering more than just sports gambling in New Jersey.
In the Garden State, the nation’s top online/mobile sports betting market in terms of handle, sportsbooks can’t take bets on in-state collegiate teams. Colorado has no such prohibition, but it does prohibit player prop bets involving collegiate athletes, a common rule among sports betting states.
What the university gets out of the deal
PointsBet will benefit from increased brand exposure in the state and shoring up its public image in the responsible gaming realm. The partnership with the Buffaloes comes just days after it was announced NBCUniversal would acquire nearly 5% of the bookmaker.
The partnership with the Buffaloes surely makes NBC happy, thanks to how it makes PointsBet look even more responsible as an operator despite the sports betting gold rush.
As for CU Athletics, it will receive “a financial boost” at “a time when athletic department budgets nationwide are stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the presser stated. The amount wasn’t disclosed.
The devil is surely in the details for how much the partnership will materially benefit athletes.
PointsBet also said it has a commitment to hiring CU Boulder tech grads, but hiring requirements were not made public. Furthermore, the PointsBet deal was touted as a way for the school to further “sports betting education” among its students and student-athletes.
Game integrity is of utmost concern to the sportsbook, the university, and of course the state.
“We’re thrilled to have PointsBet as a partner and for the benefits this sponsorship will provide for our student-athletes for years to come,” CU Athletic Director Rick George said in a statement. “We are impressed with their commitment to raising awareness around responsible gaming. And we’re particularly excited whenever we can partner with sponsors who call Colorado home.”
The deal covers all forms of iGaming that PointsBet might pursue in the state, including free-to-play sports games, daily fantasy sports, and online casino gambling. Colorado has not legalized online casino games.