DES MOINES, Iowa -- Unless something drastic happens, the final Iowa House sports betting bill will allow Iowans to bet on both professional and college sports if signed into law. Drake University Athletic Director Brian Hardin says he's not thrilled about it.
“A big concern I have is for the student athletes and the coaches and our staff members, but also their families. There will be a lot of people looking to gain their information or influence from any of those groups and that could really alter the future of collegiate athletics.
Hardin says it’s easy to focus on the worst-case scenarios like point shaving scandals, but he’s also concerned about information leaking regarding an athlete’s grades or how recovery from an injury is going. On top of those concerns, Hardin says it just doesn't seem right.
“I think the notion that we're going to have Iowa natives essentially betting on Becca Hittner and Nick McGlynn who are basketball players here at Drake doesn't feel right. They're wagering on whether an 18 to 22 year-old is going to be able to make a basket. I'd love to see them separate pro sports from amateur sports” said Hardin.
State Representative Bobby Kaufmann, the lawmaker writing the final version of the house bill, says he has confidence in the oversight which will be in place.
“I have a lot of faith in our Iowa gaming commission and they're there to catch nefarious bad actors, and so, I don't think we need to split those out. I think the regulators can do a good job making sure everything's above-board” said Kaufmann.
Kaufmann says every other state legalizing gambling has allowed for betting on college games, and it's been happening in the state for years.
“No one is going to be able to make the argument to me that this is an expansion of gambling. What we're doing, in my opinion, is bringing sports wagering out of the shadows, so we can regulate it, so that we can tax it, and so that the people who need help can get that help” he said.
Representative Kaufmann says the bill will explicitly exclude betting on high school athletics and hopes to introduce the comprehensive bill late next week.