Iowa College Betting Scandal: Internal Emails Shed Light on Botched DCI Probe


“I think this is one of the things that would bring attention to our unit, not only in the public’s eyes, but also as far as the commissioner and even possibly the legislature.”

So wrote Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Special Agent Christopher Adkins in a 2023 email to two colleagues investigating underage gambling on college campuses.

Iowa college betting scandal, Iowa State, DCI, lawsuit, Christopher Adkins, Troy Nelson, GeoComply
Eyioma Uwazurike, pictured above playing for the Denver Broncos, is just one former Iowa college athlete whose career hangs in the balance after the DCI investigation. (Image: Sky Sports)

Adkins was right that the case would bring attention to the DCI’s Sports Wagering Unit, but not in the way he might have hoped.

In a lawsuit filed last week in the Des Moines federal court, 26 Iowa and Iowa State athletes claim their rights were violated and reputations tarnished during the DCI investigation, which obtained evidence using warrantless searches.

DCI agents misused geolocation tech provider GeoComply’s Kibana tracking software to spy on betting habits without reasonable suspicion that a crime was taking place, per the lawsuit. This was an illegal violation of the plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights, it asserts.


GeoComply made Kibana available to law enforcement agencies for use in detecting “hotspots” – areas where a large concentration of bets was occurring – as part of an effort to combat fraud.

When the company discovered the DCI was using it to snoop on college dorms, it kicked the agency off the platform.

“Many [plaintiffs] have had their athletic careers ended due to the State of Iowa’s unconstitutional use of GeoComply’s Kibana software. It is our hope that through the civil action, we can help these young men put their lives back on track and gain a measure of justice for the violation of their rights,” states the lawsuit.

‘So Be It’

A slew of internal DCI emails obtained by lawyers for the athletes reveal that the agency’s motive for launching the investigation was to improve the status of its Sports Wagering Unit in the eyes of “the powers that be.”

They also reveal the contempt the DCI held for the athletes and their careers.

“If they get suspended or get a scholarship taken away, so be it,” Adkins wrote on February 2, 2023.

It wasn’t until a month later that the idea the investigation might be unconstitutional was brought up.

It’s going to be a controversial issue for us to be able to articulate what leads an investigator to search specific locations for accounts based on the absence of a complaint or lead,” wrote special agent Chris Swigart in an email to special agent Troy Nelson.

“Fourth amendment issues are going to be challenged when we are arbitrarily picking locations we want to randomly locate account information from,” Swigart added.

It appears that the issue had not occurred to Nelson, who replied: “Hmmm, very interesting. Yeah, I’ll have to think through that.”

Charges Dismissed

The investigation led to charges against 25 athletes and student managers, largely for underage gambling. Several athletes were also charged with felony identity theft because some bet using accounts that belonged to other people, such as their mothers or girlfriends.

Most pleaded guilty, paid a fine, and faced the consequences for their careers. But some, like Eyioma Uwazurike, who was drafted from Iowa Sate to the Denver Broncos, before being suspended indefinitely by the NFL, fought the charges.

All remaining charges were dismissed without prejudice by a state court judge on March 1, 2024.

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