Inside Colorado's Unprecedented $1.625M+ Deal With Gambling Outlet

The contract between Colorado and PointsBet is believed to be the first high-profile sports gambling deal in major college athletics. It is not without controversy. SI has obtained a copy of the contract.
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Sports gambling company PointsBet is betting big on the Buffaloes.

The University of Colorado will get at least $1.625 million as part of a five-year advertising agreement with the gambling company, as well as receiving a $30 referral fee for each new gambling customer it sends to PointsBet. That’s according to a copy of the contract between PointsBet and Buffalo Sports Properties LLC, CU’s private fundraising wing, which is listed as the primary provider in the deal. Sports Illustrated obtained a copy of the contract through a public records request.

PointsBet will make quarterly payments to Colorado through June 2026, when the deal expires. The payments, made on the first day of July, October, January and April, escalate each year, starting $76,250 in Year 1 and increasing to $86,250 in Year 5. Annual totals are $305,000 (2021), $315,000 (2022), $325,000 (2023), $335,000 (2024) and $345,000 (2025).

The contract between Colorado and PointsBet is believed to be the first high-profile sports gambling deal in major college athletics. Financial details of the deal were not revealed last month when the school announced the agreement.

The deal is not without controversy. Coloradoans voted to legalize sports gambling last November, but NCAA rules prohibit sports wagering among athletes, coaches and administrators. Impending legislation on athlete compensation could cause more inequality as it relates to gambling. The NCAA may prohibit athletes from endorsing gambling companies in its legislation governing name, image and likeness (NIL).

In fact, according to a survey sent to NCAA schools, athletes will be prohibited from endorsing commercial products or services that conflict with NCAA legislation, citing examples as “sports wagering and banned substances.” SI obtained a copy of the survey. The gambling ban extends to Congressional bills, too. The latest draft of NIL legislation on Capitol Hill, from Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), would prohibit a player from entering an agreement with several companies, including casinos and gambling facilities.

In the contract between the school and gambling outlet, PointsBet cannot use a Colorado athlete’s name or likeness without approval from the university, and the school is not liable if an athlete files a “claim of any kind” against PointsBet related to using their NIL, the contract reads.

There is no prohibition on universities entering gambling agreements, though Colorado officials did consult with the NCAA and Pac-12 about the deal with PointsBet, a company founded in Australia that describes its operation as “America's fastest growing online bookmaker … where the more your bet wins by, the more you win.”

Colorado wins either way, with its $1.625 million in guarantees. However, the school can generate even more revenue. As part of the deal, the more customers the school refers to the gambling site, the more cash it gets. New customers enter a CU promotional code, which triggers $30 each into the school’s pockets, according to the contract.

In exchange for its payments, PointsBet receives advertisements at Colorado sporting events, most notably at the school’s football stadium. Each CU football radio broadcast must include (1) one pregame segment featuring the gambling company; (2) a 10-second “live mention” during the game and (3) three 30-second in-game commercials. The football stadium during each home game must include (1) PointsBet logo recognition on both videoboards; (2) one in-game public address announcement regarding the company; (3) four minutes of exposure on CU ribbon boards and end zone LED screens; and (4) a permanent field level sign that must “receive TV visibility,” the contract reads.

The requirements are only for regular season games. Postseason benefits will cost an additional $600 for every 30-second spot.

CU will also provide PointsBet a “hospitality bank” of $25,000 per year to redeem for tickets to CU football, basketball and volleyball games, autographed items and “VIP experiences.” PointsBet benefits extend to the school’s website, where it gets banner ads and a minimum of five “home-page takeovers.”

Per the contract, the school and PointsBet will collaborate on recruiting opportunities for the company with Colorado faculty and staff and athletes. PointsBet will create a student fund of $75,000 per year to go “directly to supporting the development of CU student athletes and PointsBet recruitment.” This allows access to PointsBet to CU athletes to promote future internship and job placement, the contract says. PointsBet will have a stand at CU career fairs and will hold alumni recruiting events with the school.