The Implications of Michigan Allowing Colleges to Partner with Legal Online Sportsbooks

The Implications of Michigan Allowing Colleges to Partner with Legal Online Sportsbooks

As legal online sports betting has become more common in the United States, the overarching discussion around gambling has expanded to include how this shift impacts collegiate sports. Many regions with legal sports betting preclude residents from wagering on college teams within their state or collegiate sports in general. The state of Michigan, however, appears to be going in the complete opposite direction—a decision that will no doubt have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the country.

It has now been over a year since online sports betting in Michigan was legalized. Back then, that put the state in the minority. But not anymore. There is now legal online sports in the USA for more than half of the 50 states. 

Still, Michigan remains in the minority for their stance on college sports betting. They allow residents to invest in online college football betting, online college basketball betting and online college hockey betting almost unconditionally. Many other places, however, either disallow betting on college sports entirely or restrict it to schools located outside of their state lines.

With legal sports betting now becoming the standard for the USA, a bunch of people and institutions have started to wonder whether views of betting odds on college sports will change. And Michigan appears to be setting an extreme example by not only allowing it, but also enabling schools to partner with some of the most highly reviewed top online sportsbooks.

To start off 2022, in fact, Michigan State University announced that they were signing a deal with Caesars Sportsbook and their accompanying sports betting app that figures to be highly profitable for both parties. Which begs the question: What are the implications of Michigan State University signing a deal with a legal online sportsbook?

Michigan State University Signs Landmark Deal with Caesars Sportsbook

While the exact financial terms of Michigan State's deal with Caesars isn't yet known, the details of their working relationship are common knowledge.

As part of the agreement, Caesars will get the naming rights to premium seating sections inside Spartan Stadium, home of the Wolverines' football team and tailgating spots, as well as high visibility signage posted throughout Michigan State University hockey, football and basketball games. And that's not all. 

According to the official announcement from Michigan State University, Caesars will also offer "exclusive hospitality and VIP experiences through its loyalty program" to MSU bettors, which will include alumni, employees and current students. Caesars will be offering "student scholarships and internship and professional development opportunities for MSU students pursuing careers in the sports industry" in addition to "annual funds to support student athlete responsible gaming education," as well.

Perhaps that reads like word salad to a lot of you. And we get it. The moral of the story is that Caesars and Michigan State are now in bed together, and many are waiting to see how the partnership is received.

The Impact of Caesars Partnering with Michigan State University

As you might expect, not everyone is thrilled about this news. Many don't like the idea of a university serving as a sports-betting pipeline. 

Opponents of this Caesars-MSU partnership believe having younger students exposed to sports-betting propaganda and opportunities will open the door for more gambling problems. The legal betting age in Michigan is 21—just like the rest of the United States. That technically limits the eligibility of a large number of students.

Still, skeptics argue 21 is too young to have a firm grasp on responsible gaming, particularly when you might be living away from home. Opponents have also pointed out younger students may be able to run wagers through those who are 21 or older.

Beyond these concerns, there's also those who lament how the flow of sports-betting information will work from now on. Will Caesars Sportsbook have special access to updates and rumors surrounding MSU player injuries and be able to adjust their betting lines before all the other sportsbooks? That's the question competitors and sports-betting opponents have been asking ever since deals like this one became common practice for professional sports organizations.

Michigan State and Caesars Setting New Precedent for Colleges and Sportsbooks

All of the potential problems and concerns listed above are valid. Like it or not, though, the relationship between collegiate athletic programs and major sportsbooks isn't going anywhere. There's simply too much money at stake. 

Consider the entire state of Michigan specifically. According to PlayMichigan.com, in their first full year of legalized sports betting, the state took in more than $5.5 billion of wagers. That's billion with a big, fat, friggin' "B."

Of that $5.5-plus billion, sportsbooks operating in Michigan turned a total profit of nearly $430 million after factoring in the payouts of bonuses and winning bets. And given the current tax rate in the state, this means Michigan themselves walked away with roughly $19.4 million in sports-betting revenue. 

That's a lot of money, and it only figures to increase the longer that legal sports betting is around. And when you consider just how much money sportsbooks made in Michigan alone, you can only imagine the amount of cash Caesars is currently throwing at MSU.

This ultimately leads us to believe we'll soon see more deals just like this between state universities in other regions and major sportsbooks. It is the natural progression of legal sports betting, which make the Michigan State University and Caesars deal the beginning of a new standard rather than a one-off flash in the pan.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one fits all of your sports wagering needs: