Iowa State Athletes Face Sports Betting Charges, Starting Quarterback Hunter Dekkers Named

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Three current student-athletes from Iowa State and two former players have been charged in connection with illegal sports betting by the state’s Story County Attorney’s Office, it has been revealed this week. Those athletes include Iowa State Cyclones starting football quarterback Hunter Dekkers.

Dekkers, wrestler Paniro Johnson and footballer Dodge Sauser are alleged to have placed more than a thousand bets between them.

Meanwhile, Dekkers is accused of making approximately 297 wagers while underage, including 26 wagers that were placed on Iowa State University sporting events.

The other two athletes charged with illegal gambling in the court documents are former Hawkeye Gehrig Christensen and former Cyclones defensive lineman Enyi Uwazurike.

Last week, the NFL suspended Uwazurike indefinitely from his current team, the Denver Broncos, for gambling policy violations. He is now also facing criminal charges in Iowa.

Johnson, Sauser, Dekkers, and Christensen are all accused of tampering with records in relation to the criminal investigation into their case, as they allegedly used friends and family members’ accounts to conceal their identity when placing bets.

Of the four players, only Dekkers has commented. His legal team denied all charges.

Players on Defense

In response to the charges, Dekkers’ lawyer released a statement denying the criminal charge and expressing the intention to plead not guilty.

“Hunter Dekkers denies the criminal charge brought against him. He will plead not guilty to that charge because he is, in fact, not guilty of that charge,” the statement said, as reported by local Iowa outlet the Des Moines Register.

“This charge attempts to criminalize a daily fact of American life. Millions of people share online accounts of all kinds every day.”

The player’s legal team also criticized the prosecution, arguing that it interferes with and politicizes what should be the business of Iowa State University and the NCAA to investigate.

As well as criminal charges, the four players may face a lifetime suspension from the National Collegiate Athletics Association, which will permanently bar them from any college sport participation.  

The NCAA recently updated its sports betting punishments and promised a more nuanced approach. However, given the criminal charges and the fact that bets were placed with subterfuge and on the players’ own teams, it seems likely the highest level of penalties will be applied,

Continuing Enforcement Challenges

These charges against the Iowa State athletes further highlight the challenges in enforcing gambling regulations among student-athletes, especially in an era where online betting is increasingly accessible.

The story is, however, only the latest in a string of U.S. sports team betting controversies in 2023.

Earlier this year, college baseball was rocked by a betting scandal that involved an alleged $100k insider bet at a Cincinnati retail sportsbook and the firing of University of Alabama Crimson Tide’s head baseball coach Brad Bohannon.

The NFL has suspended more than 10 players this year so far for betting violations, including four more in the past month.

Despite the potential optics, sports leagues and gambling operators across the nation continue to forge closer ties.

The NFL recently announced it will be debuting a series of official football-themed casino slot machine games with Aristocrat. It also signed an extended deal with Genius Sports for deeper integration of league and match data between teams, sportsbooks, and the media.

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