Kentucky Colleges Need ‘Targeted Training’ to Prevent Betting Scandals, Lawyer Says

There may not be a more buzzing topic in sports betting than compliance issues involving college student-athletes.

Iowa State is at the heart of the issue right now, as starting quarterback Hunter Dekkers is facing criminal charges related to underage gambling on Iowa State athletic events — including football games.

But Kentucky could soon be under the microscope as well.

When sports betting in Kentucky launches this September, it will become the largest US jurisdiction that allows 18-and-over sports betting. That means the vast majority of college student-athletes will be allowed to bet starting as freshmen.

A prominent legal expert in the realm of college student-athlete betting compliance told Gaming Today the onus is on universities to keep their student-athletes in line with NCAA policies on gambling.

‘Regular, Targeted Training for the University’s Athletes’

Stephen A. Miller is an attorney at the law firm Cozen O’Connor and the Co-Chair of the firm’s White Collar Defense & Investigations practice group. He also advised gaming operators and sports teams regarding compliance issues surrounding the overturning of PASPA in 2018.

For Miller, Kentucky universities preventing compliance issues boils down to two things.

“Staffing and education,” Miller told Gaming Today. “University compliance officers are usually busy enough navigating eligibility requirements; the ease and ubiquity of online gambling for young people — especially young people who know sports well — is enough of a compliance minefield to justify additional staff.

“That staff could prepare regular, targeted training for the University’s athletes that would be separate from the avalanche of other training that the athletes must complete, which gives it a better chance of working.”

Age Limit Won’t Necessarily Cause More Issues

Although he’s currently based in Philadelphia, Miller was raised in Lexington. He’s a graduate of Henry Clay High School and a University of Kentucky alumnus. He’s aware more than most of the prominent role horse racing plays in Kentucky. The legal age limit for pari-mutuel wagering in Kentucky is 18, so Miller isn’t surprised the state chose 18 as the limit for sports betting — even though 71% of Kentuckians preferred 21 as the age limit in a recent Gaming Today survey.

And while that age limit means more Kentucky student-athletes are allowed to bet on sports, Miller doesn’t necessarily think that opens the door to a flood of potential compliance issues.

“By the time students reach age 18, they are usually living independently,” he said. “Online gambling is just another option for entertainment that can be enjoyable in moderation, and the skill of ‘moderating’ entertainment is a skill that all adults need to master eventually.”

College Sports Betting’s Role in Kentucky

Betting on Kentucky football, looking for Louisville basketball odds, or really any type of college sports wagering activity is expected to be higher in Kentucky than average. There are no professional teams in Kentucky, but there are eight Division I college athletic programs in the state.

As a result, industry experts predict a heavy dose of college sports betting in Kentucky — much like Iowa.

So Miller thinks Kentucky lawmakers were wise to put no restrictions on college sports betting.

“Kentucky rightly recognizes that college sports are a huge source of interest among its citizens — uniquely so, perhaps, where other jurisdictions often have professional teams that receive attention,” Miller said.

And, of course, the proud UK alum had to end things with a parting blow at Louisville.

“Also, there will now be one more way to participate in the UK/UL rivalry,” he said, “as there will never be a shortage of UK fans who get a kick out of betting the under on a U of L score.”

About the Author
Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain is a contributor to Gaming Today. Before joining Catena Media in 2022, Bain spent six years with the USA TODAY Network as a reporter and deputy sports editor at the Des Moines Register. A California native, Bain helped spearhead Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 coverage. He has led Catena Media’s coverage of the Massachusetts sports betting launch and the legalization of Kentucky sportsbooks.

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