Published: October 7, 2023

Wanna Bet? Colleges Taking Caution With Sports Gambling

OSU coach Mike Gundy held up his cell phone to a crowded room of reporters.

Gundy and his program consistently educate student-athletes on the dangers of sports gambling. But the cell phone, he said, is a culprit for increased instances of gambling in college sports. Accessibility has made placing bets easier to do and more difficult to control.

"We’ve addressed gambling for years,” Gundy said. "The addressing part of it now is different because of the availability to do it with these.”

The accessibility and convenience of betting has created unintended consequences. The same accessibility that allows athletes to make bets without a middleman also exposes athletes to the outside world and its vitriol.

Gambling has long been part of society. Now sports gambling is becoming a growing issue in collegiate athletics.

The ease of gambling on sporting events presents problems for universities, athletes and fans, and was recently billed as "the new oxycontin" in a story reported by The Free Press that quoted Oklahoma State professor John Holden.

With sports gambling legalized in 38 of 50 states and in Washington, D.C., compared to only nine states in 2018, sports betting is becoming increasingly accessible, forcing college athletic departments to navigate a world of issues while learning how to police it and adapt to it all at once.

Sports gambling is not legal in Oklahoma, yet. Still, Oklahoma State has already felt its reach.

"Behemoth of a Problem"

Hunter Dekkers wasn’t trying to get rich quickly or fix any games, but it didn’t matter.

In May, more than three dozen student-athletes at Iowa and Iowa State, including Dekkers, an ISU quarterback, were named in a sports betting scandal. It’s illegal to place bets in Iowa under the age of 21, and the NCAA prohibits athletes from betting on any sport in which it sponsors a championship.

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