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PointsBet Announces Promotional Partnership With University of Maryland Athletics

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • PointsBet USA has signed a multi-year promotional partnership with University of Maryland Athletics.
  • Retail sports betting went live in Maryland on Friday, December 10.
  • The deal is similar to one that PointsBet USA brokered with the University of Colorado in September 2020.

We’ve been reporting on the launch of retail sports betting in Maryland with several gaming properties opening sportsbooks including MGM National Harbor (BetMGM), Horseshoe Casino Baltimore (Caesars Sportsbook) and the Live! Casino Hotel Maryland (FanDuel). According to Maryland government sources there are 17 entities in the state authorized to offer retail sports betting–casinos, racetracks, pro sports organizations, etc. At least one more retail location will launch soon–The Penn National owned Hollywood Casino Perryville will open their eponymously branded retail sportsbook on December 23. Not sure how Penn National determines which sportsbooks to open under the Barstool brand and which to go with something sterile like ‘The Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Perryville’. Penn National is arguably the best run gaming company in the US but I’m not clear on the logic of having the ability to unify their properties under the Barstool Sports branding and not doing it. Interesting that the state regulators have Barstool Sports listed as the partner of the Hollywood Casino.

The Ocean Downs Casino/Racetrack is also expected to launch soon–since the property is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated you know they’ll open their sportsbook under the TwinSpires brand. Two other properties have been licensed though still have a number of procedural hoops to jump through before they launch–Long Shot’s Betting Beer BBQ (why would you ever leave this place!) OTB facility in Frederick and the Riverboat on the Potomac in Colonial Beach, VA. Interesting situation here as the Riverboat on the Potomac property is located in Virginia though their sportsbook will be located in Maryland. Not sure how that will work. One thing that is known is that the Riverboat on the Potomac (which I’ll henceforth call RotP) will feature a PointsBet operated retail sportsbook. One thing Maryland is doing right is awarding temporary licenses to companies that are licensed in at least three other states. Both Long Shot’s and RotP are ‘small businesses with minority and women owners’ so the Maryland Lottery and Gaming oversight body is holding them up as an example of ‘the legislative intent of the sports wagering law to create an inclusive and diverse market.’ As far as Long Shot’s plans for management of the retail sportsbook–I couldn’t find any information other than the indication that ‘Long Shot’s, LLC is currently examining options to develop a joint venture with a sports wagering operator at the facility as well as a mobile wagering option in the future.’ Considering that Long Shot’s issued a press release on December 10 announcing their successful licensing but didn’t mention a sportsbook partner they probably don’t have one yet. At any rate, both RotP and Long Shot’s are targeting Q1 2022 for their retail sports betting launch.

The real future of sports betting in Maryland–as it is elsewhere in the US–is mobile betting. The mobile regulations are still stamped as ‘proposed’ but based on my reading there should be a vigorous and competitive marketplace. The Maryland taxes are a bit high-ish at 15%. Actually, in context of so many other states (like New York’s obscene 51% rate) they look downright reasonable and that’s pretty sad.

With the Maryland sports betting ecosystem coming together you’ll start to see the incumbent partnerships and promotional deals and a big one has already dropped. The aforementioned PointsBet has signed a multi-year deal with University of Maryland Athletics. The deal is similar to the September 2020 deal that PointsBet (based in Denver, Colorado where any intelligent sports betting related business will be relocating) signed with the University of Colorado. In fact, the Maryland press release mentions the Colorado deal. The partnership was brokered by Playfly Sports–you’ll be hearing a lot about this company in the near future as they specialize in licensing deals for major colleges. Here’s the blurb from their website:

Playfly Sports Properties is the marketing and multimedia rights holder for some of the most prestigious collegiate teams, high school state associations and sports venues across the country. Together, Playfly Sports Properties is igniting these well-respected brands to connect with their deeply-rooted fanbases and beyond, in addition to forging the foundational future of sports through coast-to-coast high school representation.

We’ll turn to Craig Sloan, COO at Playfly Sports Properties, for the first quote from the press release:

“Playfly Sports is a proud partner of Maryland Athletics and we are constantly seeking innovative opportunities to engage new sponsors. Maryland’s relationship with PointsBet will elevate both brands, while strategically enhancing the rooting experience for fans, alumni and local communities.”

Pretty solid quote there–here’s some more info about what PointsBet gets from the deal:

Maryland Sports Properties, a Playfly Sports property, announced Wednesday the signing of a multi-year partnership with PointsBet USA. The agreement is the first sports betting partnership within the Big Ten Conference and will feature fan-facing in-game and campus activations in and around Maryland’s XFINITY Center and Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, in addition to strategic responsible and problem gambling education to Maryland staff, students, and fans. The partnership will also include a philanthropic component, which will be announced at a later date.

The partnership between Maryland and PointsBet is the latest gaming sponsorship deal for Playfly Sports in a string of similar deals being activated for the 2021-22 academic year. In addition to in-arena activations and commercial assets, PointsBet will be featured across Maryland’s digital channels and sports radio network broadcasts.

Next up is one of the best in the business at giving press release quotes, PointsBet USA CEO Johnny Aitken:

“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.”

Finally, a quote from Maryland Executive Associate Athletic Director and Chief Strategy Officer Brian Ullmann. How does he fit that title on one business card?:

“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. Maryland Athletics continues to lead boldly with the first deal of its kind in the Big Ten Conference and in the region.”

PointsBet is really a smokin’ outfit. They might not have the US name recognition of a BetMGM or Caesars but they’ve made impressive strides in a short span. Plus, their college partnerships are yet another brick in the wall toward greater mainstream acceptance of sports betting. Think about it–if schools like Maryland, LSU and Colorado are getting hefty revenues from sports betting partnerships all of a sudden it comes a competitive imperative. Don’t discount the significance of that in getting sports betting going in some of the southern states run by fundamentalist religious kooks. PointsBet is now live in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, Michigan and West Virginia. As noted above, they just got licensed in Maryland. They’re also planning to wade into the no win 51% tax maelstrom of New York. They at least have the rationale of building their brand awareness in such a big market.

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