Problem Gambling News August 2023

It didn’t take long for our most recent problem gambling news release from July to require a follow-up as things heat up once again across the country this August. The United States is facing a sports betting crisis as athletic organizations struggle to navigate the landscape left by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to lift the ban on the activity in 2018. Below is a breakdown of what has already occurred in the month thus far.

Current Developments in USA Sports Betting that the Public and Organizations Impacted by Problem Gambling Should Know About

7 College Players Charged with Sports Betting Violations

Back in  May of 2023, Iowa and Iowa State University launched investigations into 111 people, including 26 athletes and one athletic department employee, for violating policies regarding online sports betting and subsequently tampering with evidence.

On August 1st it was announced that the investigations have now led to charges being filed against seven current or former Iowa and ISU players. The most notable among them is ISU Cyclones quarterback Hunter Dekkers. The QB has been singled out for allegedly tampering with records related to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s probe into sports gambling. The other athletes charged include a wrestler, a baseball player, a basketball player, and three other football players, including former ISU defensive lineman Enyi Uwazurike who is accused of placing wagers in two games he played in for the Cyclones in 2021. Sports Illustrated states that this is “perhaps the most explosive sports betting scandal in recent college sports history”.

How Players Subverted the System

If the attempts to tamper with evidence weren’t enough to thrust this cautionary tale to the forefront of how regulated gambling is wrought with risk, consider how underage athletes charged in the investigation skirted the rules to bet on sports.

SI reports that ISU’s star QB Hunter Dekkers, Iowa backup kicker Aaron Blom, and Iowa baseball player Gehrig Christensen allegedly used their mothers’ names to register and make wagers from online betting accounts with operators that included DraftKings. Meanwhile, Iowa basketball player Ahron Ulis reportedly used his older brother’s identification to create an online betting profile. The other underage (at the time) athletes named in the complaints registered and placed bets under the guise of of-age individuals who were complicit in their doing so.

It’s one thing for underage individuals to subvert restrictions with unregulated sports betting operators, but when you consider that they were easily able to bypass safeguards with the likes of DraftKings, it becomes clear that regulation is not enough to protect our nation’s young adults. This leads us to the next point.

Why Risk It, Knowing the Consequences?

Once again we find message boards and media commentary pointing the finger at athletes for wrongdoing, and once again we ask the public (and policymakers) to consider the underlying concern.

A consistent theme continues to runs through our monthly problem gambling news updates. Elite athletes persistently violate gambling policies despite knowledge of the consequences. It’s easy to lay the blame on these athletes – noting that they may feel a sense of entitlement that comes with being placed on a pedestal by America’s ravenous sports fans. In some cases, the culpability may solely lay upon poor decision making. In others, there are psychological issues along with socio-cultural factors that may make them more vulnerable to developing a problematic relationship with gambling. These young adults may live with mental health conditions that are known to co-occur with gambling disorder, and exhibit other risk factors that are associated with an elevated risk of problem gambling. View more on why college athletes bet on sports even when they know the punitive risks.

New York Regulator Dubs Prop-Style Fantasy Markets to be Sports Betting

In our recent article that asks “Is Fantasy Football Gambling?” we reported that elements of daily fantasy sports (DFS) are beginning to look a lot like prop betting and parlay betting. It seems that New York gaming regulators agree, as on August 2nd in a Register update, the New York State Gaming Commission rejected a request to change proposed DFS rules to allow pick ’em-style player games on certain fantasy platforms. New York is the fourth state regulator since May of 2023 to suppress fantasy games that closely resemble prop bets offered by sportsbooks. It’s a step in the right direction, but is ultimately a drop in the bucket when compared to the nearly three dozen U.S. states that regulate sports betting.

Stay tuned for further updates as Kindbridge continues to monitor the growing problem gambling mental health crisis in America. If you, your household, or organization has been impacted by the rapid growth of sports betting across the country, please reach out to Kindbridge Behavioral Health today to discuss options for treatment and therapy.

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