The Integrity Monitor: Tracking Incidents of Athletes Betting on Sports
If you feel there has been a recent surge in sports betting-related controversies, you are not wrong, but the reasons are a bit more complicated than you may realize.
Legal sports betting has spread across the United States following a landmark 2018 decision by the Supreme Court. That ruling has brought mobile wagering into the mainstream, allowed teams and leagues to partner with gambling companies, and made it easier for Americans to wager where online sports betting sites are legal.
The same expansion of authorized betting opportunities has come with rules and regulations to govern that activity, including the obligation to report suspicious activity. That is at least partly responsible (if not chiefly) for why there have been several such reports of late that have attracted attention from the media, regulators, and lawmakers. If you're looking for something, you're more likely to find it, bad betting behavior included.
But keeping track of these recent controversies can be tricky, so Covers has created a timeline of these awkward situations. We'll update the tracker below accordingly.
September 28, 2023: The NCAA announces sanctions for Air Force after it was revealed the service academy's former golf coach "knowingly participated in impermissible sports wagering," including by betting on the school's football program.
September 15, 2023: ESPN reports a man from Indiana, who was "at the center of investigations into suspicious bets on an Alabama baseball game this spring," is now permanently banned from wagering at the state's sportsbooks.
September 6, 2023: Five current and former college athletes from Iowa and Iowa State, including Cyclones quarterback Hunter Dekkers and offensive lineman Jake Remsburg, reportedly pleaded guilty to underage gambling, a lesser charge than they initially faced. Instead of possible jail time, the underage gambling charge carries a fine of $645 and comes in the wake of a state investigation into sports betting.
"The original records tampering charge against these young men never fit this case, either legally or factually," attorney Mark Weinhardt said in a statement to ESPN and other media. "Hunter, Jake, and [former Iowa State player Dodge Sauser] are not and never were guilty of that charge. The charge has nothing to do with gambling. Other than the fact that Hunter, Jake, and Dodge placed some bets before they turned 21, nothing about those bets was a crime under Iowa law."
September 2, 2023: Iowa State offensive lineman Jake Remsburg reportedly sits out the Cyclones' first game of the season as he awaits an expected six-game suspension tied to a gambling-related investigation.
August 10, 2023: More Iowa State players are charged with records tampering by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation — starting running back Jirehl Brock, plus Isaiah Lee, DeShawn Hanika, and Jacob Remsburg — with the players accused of not just betting on ISU games they played in, but in one instance betting against their own team.
August 2, 2023: Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Hunter Dekkers was charged with tampering with records following an investigation, by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, that alleges Dekkers placed bets on ISU games. Dekkers allegedly placed almost $2,800 in mobile sports bets, with 26 total wagers on Iowa State sporting events. An ISU An wrestler, Paniro Johnson, also was accused of placing 1,283 bets (totaling $45,640), some of which were on Iowa State matchups.
July 24, 2023: The National Football League announces Denver Broncos defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike is suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games during the 2022 season. Uwazurike, who recorded 17 total tackles and no sacks in his first year in the league out of Iowa State, can seek reinstatement no earlier than July 24, 2024, the NFL said.
June 29, 2023: The NFL announces it suspended three players for at least a season and another for six games for violating its gambling policy. One of the indefinite suspensions is for Indianapolis Colts cornerback and kick returner Isaiah Rodgers, who previously mentioned “mistakes” via social media. Rodgers, fellow Colt Rashod Berry, and free agent Demetrius Taylor were suspended for a season at minimum for betting on NFL games. Tennessee Titan Nicholas Petit-Frere received a six-game ban for betting on non-NFL sports at a team facility.
"The gambling policy, which is annually reviewed with all NFL personnel, including players, prohibits anyone in the NFL from engaging in any form of gambling in any club or league facility or venue, including the practice facility," the league said.
June 5, 2023: The NFL's investigation of Isaiah Rodgers comes to light. The league is reportedly looking at Rodgers for potential breaches of its gambling policy.
Updated list of player gambling suspensions the last 2 years:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 29, 2023
At least 1 year (bets on NFL):
- WR Calvin Ridley
- CB Isaiah Rodgers
- LB Rashod Berry
- DT Demetrius Taylor
- S CJ Moore
- WR Quintez Cephus
- DE Shaka Toney
6 games (non-NFL bets but done at work):
- OT Nicholas…
May 8, 2023: Iowa and Iowa State announce multiple college athletes across multiple sports are suspected of breaking NCAA gambling rules. Those rules prohibit student-athletes from wagering on sports (even if they are professional) for which the organization conducts a championship.
May 4, 2023: Alabama's baseball coach is let go amid an investigation into suspicious betting activity involving a Crimson Tide game. The start of the termination process came days after the Ohio Casino Control Commission prohibited wagering on games involving Alabama baseball following a report from an integrity-monitoring firm. The alleged suspicious wagering activity reportedly happened at the Great American Ball Park’s sportsbook in Cincinnati.
April 21, 2023: The NFL suspends five players for violating the league’s gambling policy. Four are Detroit Lions, including receiver Jameson Williams, who received a six-game penalty for betting non-NFL games from a team facility. The other four suspended are Stanley Berryhill, who also received six games, as well as fellow Lions Quintez Cephus, C.J. Moore, and Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney. Cephus, Moore, and Toney are suspended for a year at minimum.
Dec. 23, 2022: The NFL suspends former wide receiver and then-New York Jets coach Miles Austin for at least a year for breaching the league's gambling policy. Austin was reportedly wagering using a mobile device on table games and non-NFL sports from a team facility.
Dec. 1, 2022: The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario bans wagering on UFC events following “alleged incidents, including possible betting by UFC insiders, and reports of suspicious betting patterns in other jurisdictions.” The regulator does not permit betting on UFC fights until January 19 after the mixed martial arts organization announced an update to its gambling-related policies, such as banning all "insiders" from placing wagers on its matches.
Nov. 5, 2022: A UFC fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke reportedly attracts suspicious betting activity. The match lasts just over a minute, with Minner appearing to injure his leg following a kick.
March 7, 2022: The NFL suspends then-Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley indefinitely (but at least through the 2022 campaign) for betting on the league's games during the 2021 season. Ridley is reinstated by the NFL in March 2023 and joins the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Nov. 29, 2019: Arizona Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw is suspended for at least the 2020 season for betting on NFL games. He was reinstated in March 2021 but has not played an NFL game since.
Why are more athletes betting on sports now?
There’s a chance some were already, but the spread of legal sports betting in Canada and the U.S. has made it more accessible and prevalent. Instead of having to fly to Las Vegas, professional athletes, like the public, are able to wager from their phones at online betting sites any time they are located in a state with legal sports betting.
How do athletes get caught betting on sports?
Legal betting jurisdictions can require operators to report any suspicious wagering activity, and bookmakers can use monitoring companies, such as U.S. Integrity, to assist them.
For instance, large sums suddenly wagered in an obscure betting market could attract attention. Furthermore, geolocation technology can pinpoint the location of would-be bettors — including if they are trying to wager from a team facility.
Summary of sports betting incidents
- June 29, 2023: The NFL suspends four players for violating its gambling policy.
- June 5, 2023: The NFL announces it is investigating Colts' CB Isaiah Rodgers.
- May 8, 2023: Iowa and Iowa State announce multiple college athletes are suspected of breaking NCAA gambling rules.
- May 4, 2023: Alabama Crimson Tide's baseball coach is let go amid an investigation into suspicious betting activity.
- April 21, 2023: The NFL suspends five players; for violating the league's gambling policy.
- Dec. 23, 2022: The NFL suspends former wide receiver and then-New York Jets coach Miles Austin for at least a year.
- Dec. 1, 2022: The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario bans wagering on UFC events.
- Nov. 5, 2022: A UFC fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbiekea reportedly attracts suspicious betting activity.
- March 7, 2022: The NFL suspends Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley indefinitely.
- Nov. 29, 2019: Arizona Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw is suspended.
Athletes betting on sports FAQs
In general, professional athletes are prohibited from betting on other games within their league. They are usually permitted to bet on games in other leagues, however.
This depends on the specific rules and policies set by their respective sports leagues or governing bodies. NFL players, for example, cannot bet on the NFL but are permitted to wager on other sports, as long as it's done outside of any league facility or venue.
Some recent NFL players who have been caught betting on sports include Isaiah Rodgers, Jameson Williams, Calvin Ridley, and more.
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Geoff joined Covers as a sports betting journalist in May 2021 amid the legalization boom. Prior to that, he spent time writing about business and politics at the Financial Post and QP Briefing.