USC Partners With Pechanga Resort Casino

  • The USC Trojans have partnered with Pechanga Resort Casino.
  • Sports betting is not state-regulated in California, which makes this deal fairly unique.
  • Other athletic departments across the country have made sports betting deals, most recently LSU.

LOS ANGELES - Fans of the University of Southern California Trojans have not had much to be happy about this season.

In the context of an early-season firing of football coach Clay Helton, the feedback given on the partnership between the Trojans and Pechanga Resort Casino makes a lot more sense.

After USC partnered with the resort, feedback on Twitter was negative, with one user cleverly noting that “Yeah, you don’t win when you go there either!”

Sports Betting Partnerships Are Becoming More Common

Across the country, more and more athletic departments are partnering with casinos as sports betting sweeps the nation.

LSU became the first SEC school to partner with a casino when it inked a deal with Caesars Sportsbook, and Caesars will also be sponsoring the Fiesta Bowl in 2022.

These partnerships arose both out of a desire for more revenue on the collegiate side and potential for growth on the sportsbook side.

Speaking to Marketplace in 2020, Patrick Rishe, director of the Sports Business program at Washington University in St. Louis, argued that the financial incentives of moves like this are too high to ignore.

“I think if you’re an athletic director, you’re saying to yourself, look, there’s too much revenue here to be made,” said Rishe.

In the same Marketplace story, John Ourand, a reporter at the Sports Business Journal, correctly predicted the course this movement would take.

“I expect that you’re going to see a lot of colleges in the markets where betting has been legalized start to try to bring in what is millions of dollars of potential sponsorship opportunities from these betting companies,” said Ourand.

Quick Movements Towards Partnerships

This seems to be exactly what is happening but on a faster timescale.

Louisiana has approved sports betting, but it hasn’t launched in the state as of yet, with launches expected in October.

California doesn’t even have state-level sports betting industry and yet these partnerships are still occurring.

This all brings the story back to USC. Instead of a sports betting sponsorship - which makes some narrative sense in the context of a sports-related gambling establishment partnering with an athletic department - USC simply signed a deal with a tribal casino.

The USC deal seems to be running ahead of the curve - instead of waiting for sports betting to be regulated as Ourand predicted, they found the next best thing - and it could be rubbing fans the wrong way.