Caesars Entertainment is making college football history with the announcement that it’s entering into a multi-year sponsorship with the Fiesta Bowl. The deal marks the first time that a major college football bowl is being sponsored by a gambling operator, though it surely won’t be the last time it happens as sports betting is now a major part of American sporting life.
Under the terms of the sponsorship deal, Caesars will be providing fan lounges and a sportsbook at Chase Field in Arizona, where the Fiesta Bowl is played. Caesars will also be the title partner of the Fiesta Bowl’s official parties.
What’s more important than anything else in this story is that a gambling operator is pairing with a major college football bowl game. This is one more, very significant, nail in the coffin of the arguments that leagues like the NCAA gave for years about why sports betting should never be legalized. The idea that Caesars’ involvement in the Fiesta Bowl, and its attendant festivities, could somehow corrupt college football is more absurd than ever.
For a glimpse at how much college football’s view on working with sportsbook’s has changed since legalization, listen to what Fiesta Bowl chief marketing officer Jose Moreno said to ESPN.com recently. “Five years ago, this was probably taboo or you didn’t even speak of it. But this is the evolution of sports as a whole, and we’re excited for it.”
Arizona’s regulated sports betting industry is set to launch on September 9, just in time for football season.