College Athletes Face Sports Betting Charges For Underage Gambling & NCAA Violations

Seven current and past athletes from Iowa and Iowa State face criminal charges after wagering on college sporting events. The charges come as a result of an investigion by the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Seven Iowa State & Iowa Athletes Face Sports Betting Charges

The accused athletes include wrestlers, baseball players, and football players. These players each face one count of tampering with records by hiding their identities when making wagers. The charge is considered an aggravated misdemeanor and carries a maximum punishment of up to two years in prison.

Iowa sports betting may be legal, but professional and college athletes still face stipulations. NCAA regulations prohibit athletes from placing bets on any sport at their college as well as any sport they participate in, creating even more potential for risk for athletes. Failure to comply with these rules can lead to partial or even permanent ineligibility.

Hunter Dekkers Among Top players Linked to Sports Betting

Prominent Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers has taken center stage in these recent allegations. The Cyclones star allegedly wagered $2,799 on 366 bets at DraftKings — 26 of those wagers were related to Iowa State sporting events.

One such event was the 2021 Iowa State football game against Oklahoma State. Dekkers didn’t play in this game, but he was under the legal gambling age of 21 years old. This is an immediate no-no according to Iowa regulations. What’s more, Dekkers’ own parents aided him in placing these illicit wagers.

Despite pleading not guilty to the charge, Dekkers will not attend fall camp this upcoming football season.

Charges Involve Athletes From Multiple Sports

Dekkers is far from the only athlete facing scrutiny due to illegal wagering activity. The investigation named seven athletes in total, four of which wagered on their own team.

ISU wrestler and Big 12 champion Paniro Johnson wagered over $45,000 on 1,283 bets — 25 of which were Iowa State events.

And before former Iowa basketball player Ahron Ulis transferred to Nebraska this season, he placed close to $35,000 in wagers. At least one of these wagers was placed on an Iowa sporting event. On top of that, Ulis used his brother’s information to set up his FanDuel account and he was under the age of 21 when he did so.

Former ISU defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike is another popular name in the case. He’s now a Denver Bronco, although the NFL served him an indefinite suspension for betting on the Broncos during his rookie 2022 season.

Iowa baseball player Gehrig Christensen and Iowa kicker Aaron Blom have also been named in the investigation, according to Johnson County online court records.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission made an official announcement on the matter last Thursday. The release noted that although the conduct was out of line, there is no evidence to suggest any alleged wagers affected the integrity of the games being bet on.

NCAA Evolves to Current U.S. Gambling Environment

NCAA policy on student-athlete gambling has softened in recent months — promising news for these seven athletes facing allegations. However, NCAA regulations stipulate that players can still face a lifetime ban for wagering on their own games.

Despite the risk of criminal charges and jeopardizing their college career, these won’t be the last student-athletes to attempt to skirt sports betting regulations. Underage sports betting is an evolving issue. And, as football season gets underway, it’s likely that plenty more illicit wagering activity will ensue. This is not only true for NCAA college athletes but also for the NFL and all professional sporting leagues. The difference, however, will come in the way states, colleges, and the NCAA handle gambling violations going forward.

Alec Cunningham is a lead writer and analyst for She has covered countless online sports betting and casino legislation topics and now specializes in responsible gambling and gambling addiction recovery. In 2022, she served as a panelist at the All-American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry. As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. After working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer, she returned to her love of written word in 2020. Since then, Cunningham's love of sports has led her to become a responsible gambling advocate.

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