Is The Maryland Sports Betting Deal With PointsBet In Jeopardy?

Written By T.J. McBride on April 7, 2023
Is the University of Maryland looking to get out of its deal with PointsBet?

There has been a shift recently in the sports betting world. It involves partnerships between university athletic programs and sports betting platforms.

The University of Maryland’s deal with PointsBet has recently drawn some scrutiny after the University of Colorado ended its partnership with the sportsbook. It did so three years into a five-year contract.

Now, Maryland lawmakers are taking a closer look at UMD’s deal with PointsBet.

PointsBet’s original deal with the University of Maryland

On Dec. 8, 2021, PointsBet Sportsbook and UMD struck a deal that was the first of its kind in the Big Ten Conference. That deal came about almost immediately after retail sports betting launched in Maryland. As of last November, Maryland sports betting now also includes online gambling.

This deal between PointsBet and UMD includes campus activations and activations for fans during games. Additionally, messaging by PointsBet is on UMD game broadcasts and on its sports radio network.

PointsBet USA CEO Johnny Aitken said his company’s focus was on promoting responsible gambling through the deal.

“Investing in the University of Maryland athletics program expands our ability to impact local communities and the greater DMV region while also connecting PointsBet with alumni that remain actively involved in reverence to their alma mater. Sports betting education and safe gambling is key to our long-term strategy, as is making a tangible impact on the communities we invest in. We are proud to work with such a high-profile, storied university to further these objectives.”  

Maryland Executive Associate athletic director and Chief Strategy Officer Brian Ullmann echoed that sentiment at the time.

“With the announcement of our partnership with PointsBet through Maryland Sports Properties and Playfly Sports, we are looking forward to raising awareness and educating our student-athlete and university community about responsible gambling.”

UMD educators, parents of students, and now, state legislators, are questioning the intent behind the partnership.

Maryland legislators look to add sports betting guardrails

Maryland state legislators in both the House and Senate have recently put forward identical bills to address concerns over the agreement between UMD and PointsBet.

The goal of both bills Senate Bill 620 and House Bill 802 – is to require all sports betting partnerships in Maryland to disclose to the public all aspects of the deals. The measures would also prevent compensation being paid to universities for new signups.

That practice was happening in Colorado. In January, school officials and PointsBet took out that provision in the contract. Two months later, the entire deal was scrapped. It was the first deal between a Division I school and a sportsbook when it was made in 2020.

There has been widespread support for both bills. Senate Bill 620 unanimously passed the Senate Wednesday. House Bill 802 also passed through its chamber.

The Maryland legislative session ends on April 10, so time is running short. Interestingly, the measure is supported by UMD officials.

What are the odds that PointsBet continues its partnership with UMD?

So, what are the odds that this new legislation will impact the partnership?

There are some signs that the Maryland-PointsBet deal could survive for now. A PointsBet spokesperson told Legal Sports Report that its partnership with UMD did not contain any incentives for signing up new customers. That would mean the current deal would not violate provisions in the Maryland bills.

Also, as mentioned above, UMD officials support the legislative measures to make partnerships between universities and sportsbooks completely transparent.

So, while there are concerns, the deal between the University of Maryland and PointsBet Sportsbook seems solid for now, even with the pending legislation set to become law.

Photo by Julio Cortez/AP Photo
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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver, Colorado who covers the Denver Nuggets as a beat writer. His byline can be found across many websites such as ESPN, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report, and others.

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