When the Supreme Court cleared the way for sports gambling to be legalized in 2018, the NFL rushed to embrace the lucrative business it had accused for decades of being bad for sports. After all, I had to make new money. The consequences of that reorientation are now due.
The league on Friday slapped some of the toughest penalties ever issued, banning at least three players for the 2023 season for betting on NFL games, and other violations of the league’s betting policy. The scale of the latest scandal and brief verdict from the league have rekindled questions about the shaky boundaries the NFL is about to gamble on. .
Detroit Lions’ Quintess Cephas and safety CJ Moore and Washington Commanders’ defensive end Shaka Toney’s three indefinite suspensions are at least for the rest of the season as five players have bet on NFL games in the past four years. after decades without such punishment, which meant that he received a suspension for. The investigation this week ended with two more Lions players, receivers Stanley Berryhill and Jameson Williams, being suspended six games for minor gambling violations not involving betting on NFL games. .
This sort of scandal may have been on the radar of the NFL during its 25-year investigation into legalized sports betting. “We shouldn’t be gambling with our children’s heroes,” then-league commissioner Paul Tagliabue told Congress in 1991 in support of a law effectively banning sports betting nationwide. I testified. In 2012, it was Roger Goodell’s turn to find out why.
“The NFL cannot compensate for the damage that sports betting causes to the goodwill, character and integrity of NFL football,” Goodell said in a statement to the sports betting lawsuit.
But in 2018, when the Supreme Court overturned a law Taliabue backed, paving the way for states to legalize sports betting, the NFL quickly reversed course and went after profits. The league briefly allowed the Raiders to build a stadium just off the Strip overlooking the Pyramids of Luxor, and host the Pro Bowl and Draft in the city to wrap up the 2023 season. . There’s the Super Bowl there.
In the process, the League has opened the door to the very harm its leaders have warned of for a quarter century.
Marc Edelman, Law Professor and Director of Sports Ethics at Baruch College said: As long as the NFL partners with betting companies, promotes betting during games, and encourages betting to the point of having sportsbooks on the grounds of NFL stadiums, there is “some degree of cognitive dissonance for some players.” will exist. Edelman added that they are aware of the implications if they bet on sports.
The NFL says it educates all staff on its gambling policies annually, and justifies the harsh penalties as necessary to protect the “integrity of the game.” did not disclose enough information about the offense to let the public know whether they were betting on their own team’s game or cooperating with each other and how they were caught. There was no clear information from the league as to whether or how the integrity of that game, or any other game, was at risk.
The severity of the discipline, similar to that imposed on players who had previously bet on their team, seemed aimed at deterring others. But the league’s explanation of its penalties fell short of another purpose: securing public confidence.
In a 181 Word statement released just before the weekend, the league told fans that “the league’s review found no evidence that inside information was used or that the game was compromised.” We asked that the one-sentence claim be taken at face value. anyway. “
But the league has a track record of staying away from harmful information. The NFL has destroyed videotapes and other evidence it collected as part of the 2007 Spygate investigation, showing that the New England Patriots filmed opponents’ sidelines to steal signals. Forced and refused to make public a written report detailing the findings of a league-sponsored investigation into allegations of workplace abuse and harassment under the leadership of Commander Snyder.
Although sports betting has been widely legalized in the United States only a few years ago, today’s players have virtually nurtured gambling as a pastime. Sports betting apps have borrowed from the microtransactions and loot boxes ubiquitous in video games, many of which were created by the same company that once saturated the NFL airwaves with daily fantasy sports ads. It has been.
“Enabling people to easily bet on sports on their mobile phones is a boon to the sports gambling industry because casinos are in everyone’s hands,” said Edelman. “But it’s much easier to make an instant decision to bet a small amount once, than to make a quick decision without much thought and later discover that it’s a violation.”
Many sports betting experts argue that catching players betting is proof that the system works. , they say their surveillance is more effective in rooting out illegal activity now that gambling is legal.
The NFL’s partnerships with sports betting companies are estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Instead of the “damages” Goodell warned of in his 2012, the NFL has taken the spoils, including big sponsorship deals with casinos — meanwhile, a handful as the league speaks of its integrity. players paid a high price.
Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw was suspended for more than a season in 2019 for betting on an NFL game, but he never played in the NFL. Former Atlanta Falcons receiver and former first-round pick Calvin Ridley was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars during his midseason suspension and returned in March. The Lions promptly cut Cefuss and Moore on Friday.
Bob Borland, a sports law professor at Seton Hall who teaches subjects including gambling law, said the new influx of gambling money into the NFL had a “steroid effect” and the league viewed gambling as an existential threat. He said he was quick to give up.
“It will probably go away over time,” Borland said. You may not need to.”
Borland added that finding ways to be more accepting of what has long been viewed as a vice “is a difficult task,” especially when change happens so quickly.
Goodell was correct in 2012 that legalizing sports betting would be costly. But the NFL hopes it won’t get paid.