Broncos DE Eyioma Uwazurike Faces State Review Before Gambling Reinstatement

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Denver Broncos DE Eyioma Uwazurike Faces State Review Before Gambling Reinstatement

Denver Broncos defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike was suspended last year for betting on hundreds of games — including five involving the Broncos — during his rookie 2022 season, and now his case is under review by the Colorado Department of Revenue and Arapahoe County prosecutors to determine whether any state gambling laws were violated ahead of his reinstatement date.

NFL is waiting until state authorities conclude their review before reinstating Denver Broncos defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike

According to 9NEWS’ Mike Klis, although no charges have been filed, it’s unknown whether charges will be filed in the weeks ahead. Arapahoe County is working with the state’s gaming department on a criminal investigation regarding Uwazurike.

“Sources also said the NFL is waiting until state and local authorities conclude their review before determining whether to reinstate Uwazurike. This could happen when he is eligible to apply for reinstatement on July 24, or the day after Broncos veteran players report to training camp,” Klis wrote.

The 6-foot-6, 320-pound Uwazurike is eligible to apply for reinstatement on July 24, 2024.

NFL players are often reinstated by the league the same day they apply. However, each case is unique, and the number of wagers is a factor that both the league and state authorities have to consider.

In Uwazurike’s case, he is accused of placing 32 bets on five Broncos games, including one in which he played, according to a criminal complaint filed last year by the Story County (Iowa) Attorney’s Office.

Gambling allegations against Uwazurike and other Iowa State athletes were dismissed

The initial gambling allegations against Eyioma Uwazurike and other Iowa State athletes were dismissed because it was determined the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation wrongfully used a geolocation software to collect information on their locations.

Per Klis, attorneys for the plaintiffs, including Uwazurike, successfully argued that using the geolocation software was a violation of their constitutional rights.

Uwazurike, 26, is represented by Harvey Steinberg, the local attorney who has successfully won cases for multiple Broncos’ players, such as Bill Romanowski and Perrish Cox.

“Iowa court suppressed all evidence seized, finding it was taken illegally,’’ Steinberg told 9NEWS. “That ruling is binding on the Colorado courts and the Colorado prosecutors. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to attempt to prosecute a case here when all the charges were dismissed in Iowa as result of that ruling.”

Uwazurike was selected 116th overall by the Broncos in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft out of Iowa State. As a redshirt senior with the Cyclones in 2020, he was named honorable mention All-Big 12 after finishing the season with 28 total tackles, 16 solo tackles, and three sacks.

Uwazurike made hundreds of sports wagers using the FanDuel app during his rookie season with the Broncos

During his rookie NFL season, a complaint filed by Iowa law enforcement alleged Uwazurike made hundreds of sports wagers using the FanDuel app, including games involving Iowa State and the Broncos.

The NFL then conducted its own investigation and levied an indefinite suspension on Uwazurike with reinstatement to be considered no earlier than July 24, 2024.

If Uwazurike is reinstated by the league, the Broncos would have to decide whether to activate him on their roster. In July 2023, Broncos head coach Sean Payton publicly supported Uwazurike by placing blame on the league for not communicating with players about its gambling policy and consequences for violations.

“When you have a bunch of players getting D’s, you have to start looking at the message,” Payton told Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY Sports. “And we’ve had a lot of D’s in our league this year with this policy. And we’re going to send them home for a year, where they can’t be around. The idea that you just go away, shame on us.”

“You can’t bet on NFL football, ever, ever, ever. I don’t give a s—t what it is. The other thing is, it’s the same as the gun policy. You can’t bet on nothing if you’re at your facility, your hotel, your airplane. So, wherever you can’t carry a gun, you can’t place a bet.”

According to a source close to Uwazurike, the Michigan native has been attending once-a-week gambler’s anonymous meetings the past year. He has also been attending therapy sessions once a week apart from the gambler’s anonymous meetings.