Feb 24, 2023
Casino Blog

NIL Deals Bring NCAA Basketball Athletes Closer To Casinos

The 2022 March Madness NCAA men's basketball tournament was the first time that college basketball players were able to take advantage of new NCAA name, image, and likeness (NIL) rules. It led to a new era of player sponsorships that continues to confuse some sports insiders today.

It's common to see college players' names on the lines when making college basketball picks, but not anywhere else related to gambling. That changed with the NIL rules, with at least one casino jumping on the change to take advantage of the expanded advertising possibilities.

NIL Takes Over

NIL sponsorships are becoming increasingly popular among college athletes because they offer a unique opportunity to monetize your name, image, and likeness. These sponsorships allow athletes to receive financial compensation for their name, image, and likeness rights. This compensation can come in the form of cash, products, or services.

There are a number of benefits to NIL sponsorships for college athletes. First, sponsorships provide athletes with financial compensation for using what is truly their own property. This can be a valuable source of income, especially for athletes who may not be able to find other ways to monetize their personalities. 

Second, sponsorships can help athletes build their brand and increase their visibility. This can lead to opportunities for future sponsorships and other business ventures.

NIL sponsorships are also a great way to connect with fans. College athletes can use sponsorships to build relationships with their fans and promote their brands. This can lead to increased fan loyalty and a higher return on investment for sponsors.

Drew Timme Makes History

Drew Timme, a star basketball player for Gonzaga, was the first college player to sign a casino as a NIL sponsor. The Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Spokane, Washington, signed him just prior to the 2022 March Madness tournament. Timme became the face of the casino during the games.
In 2021, college athletes were able to take advantage of their celebrity status for the first time after the NCAA lifted a long-standing restriction. Lawmakers in various states, as well as federal courts, had denounced the organization for what they said was the repeated theft of potentially billions of dollars in annual revenue through the exploitation of the student-athletes.
The favorite to win March Madness last year was Gonzaga, going into the competition as the top seed. When Timme signed his partnership agreement with Northern Quest, a casino less than ten kilometers from the Gonzaga campus, he made history.
The NCAA entered a new era with the deal. Similar to other sports organizations, it has opposed legal gambling and betting for years.
After New Jersey legalized sports betting about 13 years ago, the NCAA led a federal lawsuit against it. Leagues of all levels asserted that sports betting would compromise their sport's integrity.
However, in the end, this lawsuit resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court invalidating the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018. Instead, it backed New Jersey, and sports betting entered a new era.
Since then, widespread adoption of regulated gambling and betting has occurred. The Timme NIL deal pushed it a step further. 

Casinos Take Note

Despite the fact that the NCAA allows athletes to associate with certain gaming properties for the purpose of advertising, the organization still prohibits these players from betting on sports at any level. 
The NCAA does not want its athletes to participate in sports betting. This includes events where the athletes don't even compete. To put it another way, the NCAA prohibits college athletes from betting even in a professional rowing program because the organization hosts a rowing competition at the college level. 

However, casinos are fair game with the new NIL rules. Timme was the first to sign a sponsorship deal with a gaming property, but it almost certainly won't be the last. The paradigm is shifting, and student-athletes are no longer seen as simple chess pieces for the NCAA to use at will.

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