Sen. Blumenthal writes to colleges about ‘deeply concerning’ sports betting ads

Sen. Richard Blumenthal
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Sen. Richard Blumenthal has written to 66 academic institutions in the US to warn against the rise of sports betting adverts on college campuses, citing the impact of gambling addictions on young people. 

Blumenthal, a Democrat Senator from Connecticut, wrote to colleges with the biggest athletics departments to warn against promoting sports betting on their campuses and demanded written responses to several betting-related questions. 

He wrote: “The opportunity for lucrative deals has caused some casinos and sportsbooks to target universities, despite the very real harm gambling poses to students, many under the age to legally gamble. 

“Universities, and their athletic departments, have a duty first and foremost to protect student health. Certain factors – such as their age, stress, and past substance abuse or depression histories – make students especially vulnerable to gambling addiction. 

“Experts have said that it can be difficult for young people to recognize their inability to gamble responsibly, so it is deeply concerning that universities are willing to partner with sports betting companies.”

The Senator also gave the schools one month to respond to a series of questions, including whether the school has a sportsbook deal, whether they have been approached by a sportsbook, or whether they have a specific policy on sportsbook deals. 

He also asked whether the colleges would “commit to never forming such a partnership or contract in the future”.

Sen. Blumenthal’s past concern over sports betting ads

This development comes shortly after Blumenthal wrote to Caesars in the wake of the NYT series of stories that revealed the operator had agreements with several colleges including MSU and LSU

The Senator demanded the operator terminate those partnerships, though it is worth noting that Caesars never replied to the letter and have indicated they will continue with its partnerships with both schools. 

The industry’s deteriorating reputation

There is also a wider debate about the prevalence of sports betting advertising in the US, which is hampering the industry’s reputation. 

Most notably, the Betting On Our Future Act, a federal bill filed by Rep. Paul Tonko, seeks to impose an outright ban on sports betting adverts on TV, radio and online. 

Meanwhile, in Blumenthal’s home state of Connecticut, CB5232 seeks to prohibit sports betting marketing on college campuses and has recently passed the Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement. 

Whether Blumenthal’s latest correspondence has any impact on the industry is almost irrelevant here, but it does at least zoom in on the fact that there is increasing pressure on sports betting advertising in 2023 post the NYT stories. It seems that the pressure is not going away any time soon.