The NFL’s crackdown on sports betting among players appears to be intensifying.
A month after the league suspended five players for gambling, the NFL is reportedly investigating more potential violations ESPN’s David Purdumbefore the start of the 2023 season.
It’s unclear exactly what or who could face punishment, but the league has already laid out a blueprint for how it handles players and employees who bet either on sports or on team facilities. Let’s place bets.
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley served a one-year suspension by the NFL in 2022 after betting on NFL games while he was away from the Atlanta Falcons (he was eventually traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars). He was originally handed an indefinite suspension.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Quintz Cephus, Lions defensive back CJ Moore and Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney League will serve a similar suspension after they found, like Ridley, they bet on NFL games. Lions receivers Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill were suspended for only six regular-season games after they bet on non-NFL games at NFL facilities.
New York Jets wide receivers coach Myles Austin was also suspended for at least one year in 2022 for betting on table games and non-NFL games at team facilities. Former Arizona Cardinals safety Josh Shaw was one of the first players suspended by the NFL in 2019 after betting on games. He served a one-year suspension in 2021, but last played in the USFL for the Birmingham Stallions.
The NFL’s dual role as promoter and denier of sports betting
The NFL embraced the world of sports betting when it legalized in 2018 and eventually tied itself up in a big way with several major partners. Gambling information is intertwined with in-game analysis like never before, and sportsbooks can even operate instead of team stadiums.
This seems both hypocritical and greedy given the NFL’s anti-gambling policy, a juxtaposition that trains players and team employees with written notices and meetings. But now, the issues are taking hold as more people are getting suspended for doing things that are thrown in their face on a daily basis.
The league quickly caught on to how players were violating its policies. Earlier this month, the NFLPA reportedly sent a memo to agents warned him that the league could track his player’s use of sports betting apps, which played a role in his April suspension. This geo-tracking software is also how the NFL captures Ridley in 2022.
So while the NFL rakes in sponsorship money and remains relevant in a growing market, players continue to get swept up and face the consequences.