The online gambling industry continues to grow and in turn, it is becoming a major concern for college athletes and sports organizations alike. According to the American Gaming Association, over $93 billion was spent on sports gambling in the last year alone. With such a large amount of money involved, the integrity of college sports is being called into question.
The Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones game in September shed light on the problems associated with gambling and college athletes. The absence of five players, including Iowa State’s star quarterback, due to criminal betting charges, raised concerns about the impact of gambling on college athletes’ integrity. Matt Holt, from the Las Vegas-based tech firm U.S. Integrity, stressed that athletes betting on their own teams is unacceptable.
U.S. Integrity has been retained by major college conferences and sports leagues to monitor and guard against illicit betting on games. Holt emphasized the significance of the Iowa and Iowa State game as a warning sign, particularly because it involved a starting quarterback. Additionally, the company previously noticed irregularities in bets placed on a University of Alabama baseball game. Their alert led to the firing of the baseball coach for allegedly making bets against his own team.
Scott Sadin, the COO of U.S. Integrity, detailed their monitoring process, which involves analyzing sports data for any suspicious behavior. With the high volume of college teams, the company sends out around 15 to 20 notifications monthly to sports book operators and regulatory offices. The prevalence of online gambling has heightened the risk of gambling-related scandals in college sports, creating anxiety among athletic directors and administrators.
NCAA president Charlie Baker acknowledged the pervasive threat to the integrity of college sports, especially with the ease of access to gambling through mobile devices. Holt echoed these concerns, emphasizing the need to remain vigilant in monitoring and addressing any irregularities. His sentiment is backed up by the increasing proof that gambling scandals can occur anywhere. As the gambling industry continues to expand, it is crucial for organizations to prioritize the integrity of college sports and take proactive measures to safeguard against corruption.