Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

More Than A Dozen Iowa Athletes Charged With Illegal Sports Betting

Student Athtletes And Professionals Continue To Get Caught Up In Sports Betting Scandals


Details continue to emerge in Iowa regarding several collegiate athletes and others who were allegedly part of a scheme involving placing illegal bets and tampering with records to conceal their involvement.

The latest news sees Eyioma Uwazurike, a former Iowa State football player, and Paniro Johnson, a current Iowa State wrestler, charged with felony identity theft. Both men now face up to five years in jail and they’ve pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The allegations show some of the negative issues involved with a more expanded U.S. sports betting landscape.

Details On The Case

Uwazurike and Johnson aren’t the only players and individuals charged with similar crimes. Authorities allege 16 current and former Iowa and Iowa State athletes and others were involved. That includes at least five placing illegal wagers on games they played in, including Uwazurike.

Drafted in 2022 by the Denver Broncos, Uwazurike played eight games last year. However, he’s now been placed on the “Reserve/Suspended by Commissioner” list. Court documents allege he made 800 bets totaling more than $21,000 in 2021-22, including on two Iowa State games.

Authorities charged Johnson with making 1,300 bets of more than $45,000. The two men face the most serious charges of the group while some of the others also face NCAA discipline.

“The new identity theft charges, filed last week, allege Uwazurike and Johnson fraudulently used another person’s identifying information for their benefit in an amount exceeding $1,500,” The Gazette newspaper of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, notes. “Court records in both men’s cases describe how they allegedly engaged with another individual to create accounts with sports betting companies and then placed bets from those accounts.”

An attorney for Uwazurike has asked for charges to be dismissed and described them as “a smear campaign to justify a suspect investigation.”

Growing Number Of Sports Betting Scandals

Legalized sports betting has swept across the country in recent years and that has proven to be a challenge at times for sports leagues and legal authorities. So far this offseason, 10 NFL players have been suspended for sports wagering-related issues.

Once a vocal opponent of sports wagering, the NFL has embraced the industry in recent years. That has even included naming three betting partners – Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel.

The growing industry has seen millions of dollars flow into professional sports leagues. That hasn’t been without controversy. The NFL is now working to better educate players and employees about the league’s gambling policy as part of a new directive. That includes rookies viewing a video focusing on game integrity issues.

“It comes back to, in large part, a couple of rules that have existed as long as anybody can remember,” NFL Executive Vice President of Communications, Public Affairs and Policy Jeff Miller told ESPN. "Don’t bet on the NFL. That’s not new because sports gambling is more available. That’s always been the case.

“And don’t bet when you’re at work, wherever work happens to be in that moment. That’s existed for a long time.”